Disclaimer: I do not own Hyouka
It was a sudden comment, but not particularly out of place. Currently, the only ones present in the student council room were the president and vice-president themselves, as the other members had either gone home for the day or had other clubs to attend to.
Muneyoshi gave no indication that he had even heard his friend's words, keeping his gaze fixed longingly on the schoolyard outside of the window. Jirou, having never even looked up from the book he was holding, turned the page and continued to read.
"So she did," the president finally acknowledged with a sigh. Still not looking over, he became silent once more, waiting to see what Jirou's intentions were.
Jirou did not keep him long. "What are we going to do for the Kanya Festival?" he questioned.
Whatever Muneyoshi had been expecting, this certainly was not it, as he glanced over in surprise and repeated, "The Kanya Fest?"
The school event would not be occurring for several months, so Jirou supposed he couldn't blame Muneyoshi for acting so astonished. It was still only the first week of school, after all. The festival had probably been the last thing on the president's mind.
"What about the Kanya Fest?" Muneyoshi asked cluelessly.
"I mean, what are you going to do about Kudryavka's Order?" Jirou said. "Haruna gave you the manuscript, didn't she? You're going to draw it out in time for the festival, right?"
Muneyoshi paused at this. He tilted his head to one side with a frown, and then tilted it the other way, running a hand through his messy brown hair as he thought. "About that..."
His tone automatically put Jirou on guard.
"I don't really feel like it."
Muneyoshi shrugged unashamedly. "I just don't feel up for it. A Corpse by Evening was fun last year, but it was more of a one time thing, don't you think?" He smiled, clearly expecting Jirou to agree with him. "Besides, we're a year older now and we've got more things to worry about. We're the leaders of the school - I don't think we'd really have time to draw another manga, anyway."
The conversation was left at that. Jirou was speechless, but Muneyoshi didn't seem to notice. The student council president grabbed his bag and stood up, heading for the door of the room.
"Well, I'm out. See ya, Jirou," he said by means of farewell.
And so Jirou was left alone, still stunned by his friend's complete obliviousness.
Why, why, why didn't Muneyoshi understand?
He had a talent! A gift! How could he remain so utterly ignorant of it?
Didn't Muneyoshi know how long Jirou had practiced, drawing sketch after sketch so that he could do something more than just backgrounds of the manga? And then Muneyoshi just waltzed in and drew the most amazing art as though it were nothing? Haruna had written a beautiful story, but it was Muneyoshi's art that made A Corpse by Evening a success.
And now he was saying he didn't feel like doing it anymore?
Did he even realize that he was robbing the school, maybe the world, of something great?
Truly, those with talent were unaware of it. And that made it all the more painful for those who wished for it.
"Have you drawn anything lately?"
Muneyoshi blinked, surprised at the sudden question. This time, however, they were in the middle of paperwork. It was a month after the school year had begun, and the student council was as busy as ever with constant club forms and reports as well as general work from the staff. The room had been quiet, and admittedly a little boring - perhaps that was why Jirou had abruptly commenced conversation.
"I haven't," Muneyoshi confessed. He smiled sheepishly. "Like I said, I'm just not that interested in that kind of stuff anymore."
Jirou smiled back - a little stiffly, in Muneyoshi's opinion - and corrected himself. "I meant for fun. You're a wonderful artist, Mune. I would think drawing would be your passion."
"Not at all," the president laughed, waving a hand in dismissal. "You flatter me, Jirou. I'm not that great."
"Yes, you are." Jirou's voice was strangely insistant.
Muneyoshi shrugged. Somehow feeling that it would be dangerous to respond that he had no intention of drawing seriously again, he said, "Well, we've had a lot of work this past month so I can't say I've had that much free time on my hands."
"I see. That's true."
"Yeah. How about you? You're not bad yourself."
Jirou laughed, and Muneyoshi found that he couldn't tell if it was genuine or not. "Stop joking, Mune. I'm a terrible artist."
"Aw, that's not true. Your backgrounds were great," Muneyoshi replied honestly. "A little more practice and I think you'd make a great mangaka."
"I think my goals should be a little higher than that," the vice-president said in a dry tone, and this time the two shared a real laugh. When they were done, Jirou added, "But above all, Haruna will probably become an author one day, don't you think?"
"The best in Japan," Muneyoshi agreed. "I'll buy a copy of every single one of her books!"
"And read them, too?" Jirou prompted.
Muneyoshi looked at him oddly. "Of course. Why would I buy something and not use it?"
Jirou shrugged. "Haven't you heard? It's the latest fad of our generation."
And the student council room was filled with laughter once more.
Muneyoshi couldn't quite put his finger on it, but something certainly seemed a bit off about Jirou.
Oh, yes, his best friend was acting exactly the same as he'd had for the past year. A kind, caring young man with a good sense of humor and endless patience. But still, there were little things. Nothing Muneyoshi could specifically name, but definitely little things.
Maybe he was just upset that Haruna left? Muneyoshi could relate to that. The three of them had become good friends through their doujinshi, and he missed her very much. Jirou probably felt the same.
In that case, Muneyoshi figured, he would just have to do his best to keep his friend's mind off of Haruna. After all, moving on was a skill essential to life. Muneyoshi would simply have to fill up that void.
"Mune, could I ask you a favor?"
Muneyoshi glanced over from his pile of paperwork, blinking once to adjust his vision, and smiled. "Sure. What do you need, Jirou?"
"I think the Kanya Festival will be a large one this year."
"Of course," the president agreed. "Every club's definitely giving it their all! I was going to ask you if you wanted to see the Magic Club's performance together but..." He looked at his friend expectantly, waiting for Jirou to get to the point. "Sorry, what were you going to say?"
Jirou shook his head to show he didn't mind the almost subject change and said, "We could use a lot of publicity. Make a ton of posters and hang them around town, not just the school, you know?"
Muneyoshi nodded. "Not a bad idea. So you wanted to get permission for the Art Club?"
"Actually, I've already talked to them about it. They're working very hard to get the promotional posters done on top of preparing for their own event. I feel a little bad about it now..." Here, Jirou looked straight at Muneyoshi.
"Hang on, Jirou, I know what you're trying to do and-."
"Do you think you could help them out?"
"I just want to make things clear. I am doing this because it is the president's duty to help his fellow students in need."
"Don't get the wrong idea. I already told you that I'm not interested in drawing anymore."
Jirou's eyes flashed, but Muneyoshi was too busy focusing on the picture before him to notice. "And I've already told you, Mune, that you're an amazing artist. I think it would be a shame to let your talent go to waste," the vice-president said purposefully.
"Come on, man, like I said - I'm not that great," Muneyoshi grinned, his demeanor instantly becoming playful as though to rival his friend's seriousness. "What're you getting so uptight about, Jirou? I'm drawing this for you, aren't I?"
"I thought it was for the Art Club."
"More like to please my best friend who personally requested this of me," Muneyoshi winked. "I don't know if you really asked the Art Club for that or not, but if you did you were supposed to ask the student council president about it first. Which, I would like to point out, you didn't. You just wanted me to actually do something for the festival, didn't you?" He laughed. "I get it, Jirou, I'll work more seriously now."
Jirou didn't respond. Muneyoshi accepted this and returned his attention to the page in front of him. His eyes scanned over the picture to judge his work, and then he once again picked up his pen and resumed his drawing.
For all his intelligence, Muneyoshi had still misinterpreted his actions.
Or maybe... he had chosen to misinterpret it? Muneyoshi was brilliant in more ways than just his art - he was the president of the student council, for goodness sake. Most likely, Muneyoshi had seen right through Jirou's intentions and purposely connected them to an completely different reason.
In that case, Jirou simply had to try something on a larger scale. A message so obvious that Muneyoshi would have no choice but to acknowledge it.
An incident that would involve the entire school, as fitting to catch the school president's attention.
When Jirou accepted his invitation to watch the Magic Club's performance together, Muneyoshi couldn't have been happier.
For the past few weeks, Muneyoshi had been a little worried that his friendship with the vice-president was getting strained. He'd had no idea how or why it had come to that - he certainly didn't remember being on awkward terms with Jirou when Haruna was around - but regardless, Muneyoshi was going to enjoy the festival with his friend.
They hadn't seen each other much during the first day, what with each of them having their own separate duties to attend to, so Muneyoshi made sure that their breaks coincided with one of the performances so they could both watch.
"It's so dark in here," Jirou commented when they walked into the room.
Muneyoshi shrugged, offering a wry smile. "It's a magic show, after all. Can you feel the magic, Jirou?"
"Coursing through my very veins," Jirou returned. He glanced around, and then suddenly nudged Muneyoshi, whispering, "You're as popular as ever."
Muneyoshi followed his gaze to where some first-year female students were huddling together, and waved at them with a smile. A squeal was heard from the group, and the president couldn't help laughing in amusement. "It's all you, Jirou. Can't you hear their cries of disgust towards me?"
"Stop it," Jirou replied, although it was clear he was just as entertained.
The two made their way to the back row, and Muneyoshi found himself pleasantly surprised to see none other than Fuyumi Irisu herself seated there as well. "Hi there, Miss Empress," he greeted cheerfully.
"Hello," Jirou said from behind him.
Fuyumi turned her gaze towards them, indigo eyes regarding them coolly as she returned their greeting. Muneyoshi grinned and sat next to her. Beside him, Jirou noticed another first-year that he recognized and the two shared a brief hello.
It was then that the door was shut and the performance began.
Or, at least, it would have if the candle wasn't missing.
As it turned out, the missing candle wasn't the only incident of the festival. A tarot card from the Fortune Telling Club, a ladle from the Cooking Club, playing stones from the Go Club, and several more items from seemingly random clubs were added to the list.
"A mystery," Muneyoshi exclaimed as they exited the magic show. "Now I wonder who's behind all this." His tone was happy, indicating that he didn't think too much of the entire situation.
Behind him, Jirou frowned, although he knew that Muneyoshi couldn't see him. "It's not just for fun, Mune. Theft within the school is a serious problem. We should take measures immediately to find the culprit."
"Of course we should. I never said this wasn't serious, you know."
And then, Muneyoshi turned his head, looked right into Jirou's eyes, and smiled.
Muneyoshi turned back and headed off, lifting a hand in farewell as he walked away. "I gotta go. Nice hanging out with you, Jirou. Let's try to catch another event later, yeah?"
And so the vice-president was left alone once again, standing stone-still in the middle of the hallway.
"So the mystery thief skipped the Quiz Club, huh?" Muneyoshi repeated this new information, and then leaned back in his seat with a sigh of satisfaction. "That pretty much resolves everything."
He stared at the ceiling of the room for a long time, listening to the chatter of his fellow students enjoying the festival outside. Laughter, shouts, discussions of which event had been the best - Muneyoshi closed his eyes and listened. This was the Kanya Fest that everyone had worked so hard on, as well as his pride as the student council president.
Every student had contributed something to their club's event, and so every student would be remembered through the performances of the Kanya Fest. Muneyoshi himself had been immortalized through A Corpse by Evening last year.
And it seemed as though Jirou had wished for him to remembered twice over during this festival.
"Kugayama lost Kudryavka's Order," Muneyoshi said to himself.
No, he'd never read the manuscript. Partly because he had no interest in ever drawing manga again. Mostly because he didn't want to be reminded of Haruna. He felt as though the three of them had truly become close during their time making the doujin. He'd loved going to school and hanging out with Haruna and Jirou every day, talking to them and drawing with them and being with them.
When Haruna left, he was more bothered by it than he cared to admit. Surely Jirou understood that? Surely his own best friend would realize why Muneyoshi didn't want to read Kudryavaka's Order, much less draw it out?
He could only hope. But something, some nagging feeling within him, told him that no, Jirou didn't understand.
Jirou had never understood.
"This year's Kanya Festival has safely come to an end."
Muneyoshi gazed over the student body with a mixture of amusement, relief, and pride as he stood upon the stage. A slight smile on his face, he added, "Though it seems there was a bit of a strange incident."
The students laughed at this, remembering all the thefts that had gotten them so worked up during the course of the festival. With the explosive finale at the Classics Club, Jumonji had officially won, and although the school would never know who the mystery thief was they were sure to remember the excitement he'd put them through.
As they enjoyed their memories, Muneyoshi turned around to face his fellow student council members lined up behind him. Jirou was the only one who looked back at him. He was also the only one not laughing.
Holding up a hand to block his words from the microphone, Muneyoshi whispered the comment meant only for Jirou's ears.
With a small chuckle, he turned back to the audience.
He didn't need to see Jirou's face to know about the confused expression that had come across it. But he had forgiven Jirou, and so long as his vice-president understood that he couldn't ask for anything more.
"Anyways, good work everyone! I hereby declare the 54th Kanya Festival closed!"
The auditorium burst into applause.
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