Although this is a Sono Hanabira fan fiction, there will be no adult scenes. I'd probably be terrible at writing them if I tried, anyway. On another note, I normally avoid using Japanese words and honorifics in my writing because I like to try to keep my stories as accessible as possible to an audience that may lack knowledge of such things. However, in this story, I was unable to find a suitable English representation of the honorific "-sama", the greeting "gokigenyou", and the concept of White Day. As such, I will explain them now. Feel free to skip over this if you already know what they mean.
"-sama" is usually used to show respect when addressing someone. It may imply a master/servant relationship, but in this story it is used by the protagonist's classmates because they look up to her. It is also used by most underclassmen instead of the usual "-senpai" when addressing their upperclassmen in this story's setting.
"Gokigenyou" is a very formal and feminine greeting that is used in the Sono Hanabira series all over the place. It is used as both "hello" and "goodbye". I had considered using "good morning" and "good evening" but they didn't really carry the formality I was looking for.
Lastly, in Japan, on Valentine's day, usually girls give boys chocolate. The boys will then give chocolates in return to those same girls exactly a month later, on March 14th. This day is called White Day.
"Haaa~ Class is finally over!"
I couldn't help but let loose a sigh as the school day ended. The classroom was full of the sound of shuffling and idle chatter as my classmates packed their belongings and started heading home with their friends. I briefly looked over the notes I had taken today and gave a satisfied nod before neatly storing my notebooks away in my bag. As I was making sure I had everything, I heard someone call out my name, "Mai-sama, gokigenyou!"
I turned my head towards the voice and saw a few of my classmates waving at me from the doorway. I used to feel awkward using such a formal greeting before, but now I was able to easily reply back, "Ah, gokigenyou!"
This school, St. Michael's All Girl Academy, is a private school for rich girls that I had somehow gotten a scholarship for, and so, I'm always surrounded by refined girls from high class families. Despite being from a normal middle-class family, I haven't been treated badly by the other students or anything like that. In fact, it's the opposite. As you may have noticed, those girls called me "Mai-sama". I'm not entirely sure why this is but it's probably related to the fact that I'm the only one able to keep a certain troublesome girl under control.
"Reo, let's go home," I said to that certain troublesome girl who was the only person left in the classroom besides me. No reply. Huh? Did she not hear me? I walked through the now empty classroom to her desk and called her name again.
Still no reply. She looked like she was deep in thought. Wow, that's a rare expression. Usually she's embarrassed, confused, or angry. Or any combination of the three. Her small lips were mouthing words though she wasn't saying them aloud and her slender fingers were absentmindedly playing with her blonde hair. Ah geez, why are you so cute Reo? Everything about her was small and cute. She was at least a head shorter than me and had a petite frame. Her skin was white and unblemished, and her puffy cheeks which were so often flushed red with anger or embarrassment made me want to just tease her. So I did.
"Wah! Mai! What are you doing?" Reo exclaimed in reaction as I suddenly hugged her from behind. "Let go of me!"
"Mmmm, but I don't really wanna. Do I have to?" I teasingly replied. As I embraced her, I took a deep breath of her scent from her hair. Aaah, how refreshing. Oh, by the way, in case you were thinking I was a huge pervert just now, Reo and I are lovers so this is perfectly normal. I think. It's normal, right?
"Stupid Mai! Let go of me right now!"
"You don't like me hugging you?"
"Of course not!"
"R-really! I-it's embarrassing..."
Even though I knew how she would answer the questions, I couldn't help but squeal internally at how cute she sounded as her stutters betrayed her true feelings. Though she continued to struggle in my grasp, I held her even more tightly, trying to coax more sweet-sounding protests from her mouth. I placed my lips near her ear and whispered, "It feels so nice hugging your tiny body so I'll definitely never let you go."
I could feel her trembling with anger at those words.
"M-M-Mai, you idiot! Dummy! I'm definitely not giving you any chocolate!"
Aha, there it is! Reo's trademark angry yet embarrassed face! Her face was turning so red that it was tinging even her ears. To tell you the truth, I think this is the second cutest expression that Reo can make so I'm always teasing her like this. If she ever found out, she'd probably bite me. Hmm? What's the absolute cutest face she makes? Well that's kind of... Let's just say that my pursuit of that expression is the main reason Reo calls me a pervert.
Anyway, with my objective completed, it was time to stop teasing her before she decided that I deserved to have bite marks all over me. Besides, I had just heard something very interesting. After I let her squirm out of my arms, she stood up out of her desk and glared at me. It seems like she didn't realize that she had said something strange earlier so I asked her innocently, "What's this about chocolate?"
Reo suddenly tensed up. Her indignant expression suddenly became flustered and her eyes looked elsewhere as she unconvincingly answered, "I-I have no idea what you're talking about."
Anyone could tell that was a lie, but if she was going to be like this, I was going to have to weasel the answer out of her. "I definitely heard you say that you weren't going to give me chocolate. What's that about?"
"W-well... that is, um..." Reo's eyes flitted left and right as she tried to come up with a reply. "I meant that I'm never going to share my snacks with you... Yeah! That's what I meant!"
I raised an eyebrow. Reo never shared her snacks with me anyway. She was always packing away sweets at every opportunity and I wouldn't have been surprised if the thought of sharing never even crossed her mind before. Not that I minded. Somehow, despite all that junk food, Reo's body maintained its perfect petite figure without any effort. Oh, how I wish the same could be said for my body. Sigh. Anyways, she specifically mentioned chocolate earlier. What was the significance of chocolate? As soon as I asked myself that, it hit me. Valentine's Day!
"Are you sure you weren't planning to give me a Valentine's chocolate?" I asked coyly.
Reo practically jumped at that question. "O-o-of course not! W-who in the world would do that?"
"...Fine. I was thinking about giving you a Valentine's Day chocolate when I realized it was only a week away," Reo finally admitted, "And I was trying to figure out what kind you might like."
A Valentine's chocolate from Reo? I think I might die of happiness if I received that.
"Reo~! I'm so happy that you're giving me a Valentine's chocolate!"
"I'm not though."
"You're an idiot so I'm not giving you any."
Oh, right. The teasing.
"...I'm sorry. Please forgive me."
"No way," she replied flatly.
"How about if I make you some White Day chocolates in return?"
It looked like she was seriously considering it. Did she just swallow her drool? I knew I could count on sweets as leverage! Alright, just one more push!
"Oh great Reo-sama! Please find it in your heart to forgive the misconduct of this lowly Mai!"
"Ah, geez! You're so annoying!" Reo cried out. "Alright already!"
Yes! I was so happy that I tackled Reo into a hug again as I exclaimed, "Reo~! I love you!"
"Wah!" My tackled knocked Reo off balance and we toppled over onto the floor. Reo's cheeks were flushed red with anger again as she shouted at me.
"MAI, YOU IDIOT!"
The day before Valentine's Day was pretty cold. The two of us walked hand in hand from school, chatting about random things. It always gave me a warm fuzzy feeling when Reo held my hand, especially because she was so unwilling to do it before. I was glad she'd finally gotten used to displaying our affection more publicly, even if it was only a little bit. Today, she was even leaning against my arm a little.
"So, tomorrow's the big day. I'm really looking forward to it, Reo!"
"Y-yeah." Reo sounded a little worried.
"What's wrong? Don't tell me you didn't buy the chocolate yet?" I asked jokingly.
"Wait, seriously? You didn't?" Well, I couldn't say that I was surprised. This was definitely very Reo-like, but I was still a little disappointed.
"I did!" Reo said, "I did, but..."
"...I bought the wrong kind."
I tried not to laugh but I couldn't help it. It came out anyway as a "Pfft" as I covered my mouth.
"Haha... sorry, sorry," I apologized. I took a few breaths to stop my giggling before asking, "So what kind did you end up buying then?"
"The kind that bakers use."
"That'd definitely be odd to give for Valentine's, but if it's from you I'll gladly accept!"
Reo blushed a little at that remark, but turned away quickly to hide it. "Mai, you dummy. There's no way I can do that. I was thinking of trying to make something with it since I bought it."
Reo's homemade chocolates? Even if they turn out terribly I'd definitely eat them all! Err, now that I think about it, not only would they probably come out badly, but she would also probably make a mess of the kitchen and end up burning herself. "Hmmm, you're going to try cooking?" I asked dubiously, "Do you want me to help out?"
She looked at me like I was stupid. "Why would I want you to help me make something when it's for you? That'd be completely pointless."
Okay, I could see her point there, but I couldn't help but feel uneasy about this. "Do you even know what kind of chocolate you're going to make and how to do it?"
"It'll work out somehow."
...Wow, that's way too optimistic. This girl was really making light of cooking, wasn't she?
"At the very least, let me look up a recipe and send it to you when we get home."
Whew, with that at least I was able to minimize the damage. The topic changed to something else after that and the rest of our walk home was pretty much uneventful. At home, I went online to see if I could find a simple recipe for Reo to follow. Since the only one using her kitchen was me whenever I went over, I knew what ingredients were in its cupboards as well. After a few minutes, I found something suitable and sent it over to Reo's phone with a "Good luck!" and a smiley. I had decided to start my homework after sending that message, but my phone beeped at me less than a minute after I put it away. Of course, it was a reply message from Reo:
From: Kawamura Reo
Subject: Re: Chocolate Recipe
Message: Thanks. I love you.
My heart skipped a beat. I still wasn't used to the more honest Reo that surfaced when she was texting so the "I love you" really hit me hard. Usually, it was nearly impossible to get her to say that in person. After calming myself down, I composed a reply back:
To: Kawamura Reo
Subject: Re: Chocolate Recipe
Message: I knew I forgot something in my last message. I love you, too!
After I sent that, I took a look at my first message. Sure enough, no "I love you". How silly of me to forget that. I usually never miss an opportunity to tell Reo how much I love her and text messages certainly weren't an exception. Just for the heck of it, I decided to reread the recipe in my message again, imagining Reo performing each step clumsily. In my mind, I saw her melting the baker's chocolate in a pot with the flame way too big. I saw her licking the melted chocolate off the spoon she had been using to stir it and burning her tongue. I saw her tripping as she was holding the pot...
...And that was probably a good place to stop. My imagination was just making me more worried about how Reo was going to make that chocolate. Maybe I should've gone over and helped out after all so she didn't end up hurting herself. Homework could wait until later. I let my parents know I was going out and headed over to Reo's apartment. Once there, I fumbled around for the extra key she had given me before unlocking the door and swinging it open.
Holy crap. Why was it so warm in here? It was pretty cold outside since it was winter, but in here, I felt like I could have worn summer clothes and felt fine. Don't tell me Reo left the heater on all day? I definitely needed to talk to that darn girl later about being less wasteful. I left my shoes at the entrance and made my way towards the kitchen. Hmmm, it didn't look like she started yet. Where the heck was she? I decided to check her bedroom. Sure enough the light was on and Reo was lying in bed, still in her school uniform and still looking at her cellphone. She apparently hadn't noticed me yet and was instead, just intently reading whatever she had on the cellphone. Was she still looking over the recipe? That's what I was thinking until...
"Haaaa~ Mai, I love you~" she sighed, as she hugged her pillow.
I stood frozen at the doorway, experiencing an overload of cuteness from this unknown side of Reo. This is how she behaves when she's alone? As much as I wanted to hug Reo and tease her in various ways right then and there, I had the feeling that if she ever found out that I caught her like this, I wouldn't be able to get away with just a few bite marks. With that in mind, I slowly backed away all the way into the kitchen. After taking a few deep breaths to calm myself down, I called out as normally and calmly as I could, "Reo, are you there?"
A surprised squeak came from her room in reply. Shortly afterwards, Reo came into the kitchen. "M-Mai! Why are you here?"
Whew, looks like she didn't notice me snooping on her earlier. Don't worry Reo, your secret is safe with me. I giggled silently to myself as I replayed in my head the short scene of her hugging her pillow and whispering her love for me.
"Oh!" I started, snapping back to reality. Whoops! I almost forgot what I came here to do in light of this new discovery. I shook myself out of my daze and tried to focus on the present. "Sorry, but in the end I got worried about you and came over. Are you sure you don't want any help?"
"Didn't I tell you that you helping with this would make it completely pointless? Giving you chocolates that you made yourself would be the stupidest thing ever!"
"I wouldn't mind."
"But I would!" shouted Reo. "You're such an idiot, Mai. Just leave me alone and let me do it by myself. I'll definitely succeed by tomorrow."
"You won't let me help no matter what?"
"No matter what."
"Then what if I just watch over you?" I asked, trying another approach.
"That would be embarrassing so no."
...How is that embarrassing? Oh Reo, you get embarrassed over the strangest things, but that's just another cute thing I love about you. Although you sure chose a troublesome thing to get embarrassed about this time; I'm running out of ideas to make sure you don't hurt yourself!
"I said no! Why are you being so persistent today? Just go home already so I can get started!" she demanded, pushing me towards the door.
"Hey, wait! I'm just worried about you hurting yourself over this!"
"Even if I hurt myself, I'll definitely keep going until I succeed!" Reo declared loudly. She pushed me all the way back to the entrance and opened the door before she added quietly, "A-after all, it's for your sake..."
"There's no way I'll give up i-if it's for you."
"Wah!" she shouted as I pounced on her, hugging her tightly yet again in reply to her heartfelt feelings. I'm so happy to hear you say such things, Reo! Ahh, you're so soft and cuddly in my arms and your hair smells wonderful, too.
"Mai..." Reo snarled while shaking angrily in my arms, "HURRY UP AND GO HOME ALREADY!"
And with that, she gave me a huge shove out the door and slammed it shut. Well, there was no point in trying to pursue this further so I went home. Despite what Reo said - or rather, possibly because of it - I felt really uneasy about her all the way until bedtime.
In the end, I don't think I even slept all that well.
The next morning I went to pick Reo up at her apartment so we could walk together to school like usual. Lately, I had gotten into a habit of texting Reo when I arrived to let her know I was there. Usually she would be out in a few minutes, but this time, I got a message back.
From: Kawamura Reo
Subject: Re: I'm here!
Message: Go on ahead of me today. I'm not skipping so don't worry.
I chuckled to myself. Any other day, I'd wonder what was going on and barge into her place, but I had a few good ideas of what was she was doing today. Perhaps she was embarrassed about giving me a chocolate now and this was a delaying tactic? Maybe she was refrigerating the finished chocolate overnight and hadn't boxed it in a nice package yet. Whatever it was, I gave her a break this time and headed to school without her.
"Ah, Mai-sama, gokigenyou," a classmate greeted me as I came into the classroom, "Is Reo-sama not coming today?"
"Gokigenyou," I replied, "Reo is running a little late today, but she should be here soon."
Or so I said, but as the minutes passed, I got a more more worried. If she didn't come soon, she might miss the start of class. However, just as the bell rang, the door slid open and Reo hurriedly rushed into her seat, ignoring me completely. And so, school began without any mention of the chocolates that I was looking so forward to receiving. During the breaks between classes, I patiently waited for Reo to come over and hand me a cutely wrapped package, but it didn't happen. Reo stayed at her desk and refused to even look in my direction. I was definitely worried now. Was she too embarrassed to give them to me in front of all our classmates or - I really didn't want to consider this possibility - did she end up messing up all night until she ran out of ingredients? Reo...
Half the day went by with me anxiously waiting for her to approach me and before I knew it, it was lunch time. As usual, I went up to Reo's desk and cheerfully said, "Reo, let's go eat lunch?"
"Y-yeah. Okay," she nervously replied and followed me quietly to the little secluded area on the school grounds where we usually ate alone. We both opened our lunchboxes and started to eat without a word. Now that we were alone, she shouldn't have been worried about our classmates. It was the perfect time, wasn't it Reo? I really didn't want to bring up the chocolate first because I still wasn't sure if she really had any to give. Reo wasn't saying anything either, though... Waaah, today's lunch time is so awkward! I needed to break this silence somehow.
"Reo, you know-" I started, but a voice I didn't recognize called out at the same moment.
Reo and I looked in the direction of the speaker and saw a group of three younger girls. Underclassmen? I wonder what they wanted. One of them who was holding a small pink package looked really nervous while the other two pushed her gently but firmly towards us. They seemed to be whispering encouragement like "You can do it" and "Good luck" as they approached. I had a pretty good idea of what was going on here, but I played along.
"What can we do for you?" I asked politely.
"Umm... M-Mai-sama..." the one with the package stuttered nervously, "If you can, p-please accept these chocolates!"
She held out the pink box that was wrapped with a red bow. I smiled warmly as I took the chocolates, replying with "Of course I can. Thank you very much."
"Y-yes! Thank you very much, too!" the girl blushed as she replied back much more loudly than she probably intended, "N-now if you'll excuse me!"
And she took off running, leaving the other two behind.
"Hey, Kyouko! What are you running away so suddenly for!" one of them shouted, as she went chasing after her fleeing friend. The last one turned to us and bowed quickly before following suit.
As soon as they were gone, I heard a soft "hmph!" behind me. Reo was probably unhappy about me accepting chocolates from others. In fact, I was kind of surprised that the whole exchange happened without her jumping in and growling at them to try to scare them away.
"Reo, are you angry?" I asked, testing the waters.
"I'm not," she said huffily. She went back to eating her lunch in silence and refused to look at me. Oh boy, she was definitely mad and this time, it wasn't the kind of anger I could joke my way out of. Normally, I would have teased her about being jealous, but if Reo really didn't manage to make her chocolate, my teasing might have made things worse. Argh! Just what the heck was I supposed to do?
Neither of was willing the break the silence that had descended on us, and eventually, lunch ended on an even more awkward note than it began on. Back in the classroom, none of the teacher's words made it into my head. I was too busy stealing glances at Reo, who never looked at me, and trying to think of some way to make up with her. This was the first time in a long while that I felt so lost. Of all days, why did it have to be Valentine's Day that we had such a huge distance between us?
When classes ended, I saw Reo pack up quickly and head for the door without waiting for me. What the heck! I speedily packed up myself and ran after her.
However, a crowd of underclassmen that had been waiting for me surrounded me as soon as I left the classroom, preventing me from following her. I saw her take a glance back at me before running away as fast as she could. I had to chase after her! However, the younger girls around me wouldn't let me go until I took their chocolates.
"Mai-sama! Please accept this!"
"I made this for you, Mai-sama!"
"I have something for you too, Mai-sama!"
I hastily accepted all the chocolates that were being offered to me, thanking my admirers in the process, but my brain was filtering out most of what was being said. I had to get out of there and chase after Reo! It had only been a few minutes but it felt like any longer and I would have lost Reo forever.
"Everyone, I'm sorry that I can't stay longer," I said to the group of girls, "But I really need to go now. Gokigenyou!"
Without waiting for a reply from anyone, I rushed away and out of the school. I had no idea where Reo had gone but my best guess was her home. I ran all the way to her apartment complex, up the stairs, and down the hall to her door. I stopped to catch my breath before opening the door.
"Reo!" I called out into her home. There was no reply. I didn't see her shoes at entrance way either, but I went in anyway just in case. "Reo, are you in here?"
Even if she were, I guess she wouldn't reply, huh? I took off my shoes and went in and searched for her. None of the lights were on in any of the rooms. I checked the most obvious place last as if I were delaying meeting her despite my rush earlier, but she wasn't in her room either. It looked like she never went home after school. Where could she possibly be? My heart ached as I realized I hadn't even the remotest idea where she would go if she weren't home.
I was a complete mess when I got home. The only thing I could manage to do was fall over into my bed, depressed. I had sent a message to Reo when I left her apartment, but she never replied. There was some homework to do but I was in no mood to do it. Instead, I just flopped around on my bed. Maybe if I went to sleep now, I'd wake up and find that today was all a dream and Valentine's Day hadn't happened yet. Maybe this was just a nightmare and I'd wake up to find Reo proudly giving me her chocolates.
I pinched myself. Nope, not a dream.
At that moment, the doorbell rang. Who could that possibly be at this hour? I considered just ignoring it, but I heard my mom calling me from another room to get the door. I dragged myself out of bed and shuffled over to the front door.
"Yes, who is it?" I asked as I swung the door open. No one. I was about to write it off as a stupid prank by one of the neighborhood kids when I noticed something on the floor. That looked like... no, that was definitely a package of Valentine's chocolate. Who left that here? I glanced around the street but it was empty. Whoever rang the doorbell and left it here was long gone. I picked up the small box and inspected it, but it was unmarked. Huh. Oh well, maybe binging on some sweets would cheer me up.
I brought the box into my room and opened it. Inside, there was a vaguely heart-shaped slab of chocolate. Wait a second... isn't this the same kind of chocolate that the recipe I sent Reo was for? It wasn't very well made and kind of lumpy, but that was just the sort of thing I would have expected of Reo's abilities. I broke off a small piece and popped it into my mouth.
SWEET! This chocolate was way too sweet! How much sugar was added into it? Don't tell me... I quickly brought up the recipe on my phone again and skimmed through the steps. Just as I remembered, it said "add sugar to taste" during the mixing step. There was no doubt about it; this intense sweetness was definitely Reo's doing.
This chocolate was from Reo. I felt like a heavy weight was lifted from my chest as I made this realization. This chocolate was from Reo! I received a homemade chocolate from Reo on Valentine's Day!
I was so relieved. Despite what had happened today, Reo didn't hate me. The next morning, we were going to talk out our differences and everything would be normal between us again. I ate another piece of Reo's chocolate. Alright! Now I'm pumped up! I spent the rest of the night thinking about Reo as I cooked, ate, and did my homework. I didn't stop even when I was in bed and ready to fall asleep. Reo~!
"Reo! Good morning!" I cheerily called out.
Acting so surprised even though she was obviously waiting for me. Reo is so cute!
"Shall we go to school?" I asked, holding out my hand.
She hesitated a little before taking it.
"U-um! A-about yesterday!" Reo started nervously, "I'm... I'm sorry."
I frowned a little bit. "Why are you apologizing? Wasn't it my fault?"
"It's not your fault at all!" Reo said fiercely, "Even though I knew you were too nice to refuse, I still got mad at you."
"But even though I knew you wouldn't like it, I still accepted someone else's chocolates right in front of you," I countered, "Doesn't that make it my fault?"
"No way, it was definitely my fault!"
"Well, I disagree!"
We rallied back and forth for a while like this, each of us trying to take the blame before we realized that we were just being silly. Eventually, I changed the topic.
"Oh yeah, Reo, something interesting happened last night," I told her, "Care to guess what?"
"Hmm? What happened?" she asked. She didn't seem to suspect anything yet.
"Someone left a Valentine's chocolate on my doorstep!"
"I-is that so?" she replied. I could hear a slight stutter. "And? What about it?"
So she was going to pretend it wasn't from her? Time to bully Reo a little bit as punishment~!
"When I opened it, I almost laughed. It was so weirdly shaped!"
"As soon as I took a bite of it, I almost died, too!"
"I-it tasted b-bad?"
Reo looked like she was about to cry. Okay, I guess that was enough bullying. I wrapped my arms around her as she tensed up from my sudden advances and I whispered into her ear, "No, it was delicious, Reo. Thank you for the chocolate."
Her face was blushing fiercely and it looked like she was about to protest about hugging in public again, but she seemed to change her mind suddenly.
"Did it really taste good?" she asked timidly.
I chuckled and kissed her lightly on the cheek.
"It was the best chocolate I ever received."