“You know, you shouldn’t play with a maiden’s pure heart.”
After that, she somehow regained her good mood with a desperate apology, but she still seemed to be angry, sitting down on a bench by the aisle and licking the end of a soft-serve ice cream (my treat).
“No, really, you are right.”
He shrugs and nods his head, glancing over to see if he can see Ageha’s mood.
Damn. I thought I was picking up the pace, but once again I feel like I’m being made to do the bidding of Ageha.
“Then, let’s continue our date, shall we?”
Before I knew it, Ageha, who had finished eating the soft serve ice cream, stood up vigorously.
I follow her lead and stand up from the bench, and she holds out her right hand to me.
“… Yes, yes.”
It would be bad to spoil her good mood again by saying no.
When I took her hand meekly, she smiled happily and said, “Heh heh.”
Perhaps it was because she had confessed her feelings to me.
This kind of gesture from Ageha makes me feel a bit nervous.
We rode the escalator to the upper floor.
Accompanied by her, I wander around the area where fashionable stores are lined up.
“Oh, look, look. They are selling rice cakes!”
“I see, another week and the year will change.”
The small kagami mochi piled up at the end of the passageway connecting the south and north sides of the building, which is divided by a stairwell, makes one realize that the year is finally coming to an end.
Still, it seems quite unusual to sell kagami mochi on Christmas Day.
Is that a strategy?
“Hey, Haru-kun. Let’s go to Hatsumode together, okay?”
“Didn’t we promise on the train that we would focus on your studies until March?”
“Hatsumode is different. I have to make a wish because I have to take an entrance examination.”
My point is hurriedly refuted by Ageha.
Well, it’s true that many students who are busy studying for the entrance exam will probably stretch their wings on this one day.
“I don’t mind, but is it okay with you? I’m sure you’ve been invited by friends or something.”
“I’m fine, I’m fine. I was going to go with Haru-kun, so I turned them all down.”
“Hey, where’s my will?”
The schedule was made on the assumption that I would go to Hatsumode with Ageha.
That’s terrible. I might be going with a friend, too.
I reflexively retorted, and she peeked at me with a puzzled look on her face.
“… What? Because, Haru-kun, you used to look forward to going to Hatsumode with my sister every year.”
She saw right through me!
Just like the Christmas party with the Aizawa sisters, me, and sometimes their mother, the same group of people went to Hatsumode every year.
While Ageha was dressed in her regular clothes, Karen always wore a kimono on her first visit to the shrine.
Seeing Karen in a kimono was a secret pleasure for me, but I had no idea that she had found out about it.
Well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that she had discovered my fondness for Karen.
“So what are you going to do?” I slightly raised my free right hand with a sigh as she peeked at me with an innocent expression on her face.
“Okay, okay, I give up. But it’s really just a first visit. I won’t play with you afterwards.”
“You don’t have to be so cautious. If I fail out of high school because I have too much fun, I won’t be able to go to the same place as Haru-kun. I’ll be serious about that.”
With a serious look on her face, she says.
Her soft hand holding my left hand tightened its grip.
As I gazed at her strong-willed profile, I sincerely hoped that she would be accepted.
After that, it was a good time to continue window shopping, and once we were about to choose a Christmas cake, we decided to take a restroom break.
I returned to the restroom before Ageha, and looked around at my surroundings.
He squints at the store on the other side of the stairwell.
The store, which looks like a general store, is selling winter clothes for winter under the guise of a sale.
Scarves, earmuffs, knit hats, and… gloves.
I remember that Ageha said she had lost her gloves.
Here, where the visibility is good, it is easy to find her when she comes back.
I found myself walking forward.
I passed through the passageway connecting the atrium and approached the general store.
There is a small crowd at the front of the store, and I enter the sale section, taking care not to hit my body.
A variety of gloves for men, women, and kids are on display.
There are even a few gloves lined up that look like they would look good on Ageha.
Well, I owe her a debt of gratitude for taking me out of my depression, and it’s Christmas Eve.
I pick up one of the gloves in the line and stare at it intently.
It is a pair of gloves knitted mainly with navy blue and white yarn.
These would look better on Karen.
Unlike the Ageha, she has a calm atmosphere, so these gloves should suit her well.
I gently put the gloves back where I found them and grabbed another pair.
Mitten gloves, mainly pink. The wrists are covered in fuzzy white fur, with what looks like rabbit ears poking out of them.
I try to imagine Ageha wearing them.
… It would definitely look good on her.
I should probably take more time to compare other products and make my choice, but I’m sure that Ageha will be back soon.
I stood in line at the checkout counter with a pair of bunny-ear gloves in my hands.
“Is this a gift for your girlfriend?”
The waitress asked me, smiling smugly.
I nodded vaguely and said, “Yes, well,” because I knew that if I was at a loss for an answer, it would only create a strange atmosphere.
As I left the store and headed for the restroom, I saw Ageha, who had already returned, looking around anxiously like a puppy that had been abandoned.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.”
“I’ve been wondering where you’ve been, Haru-kun. I was worried that you had gone home.”
“I wouldn’t do that.”
When I call out to her, she smiles in relief, and then immediately purses her lips in a snarly manner.
I approached her again, apologizing, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
“Hmm, Haru-kun, did you buy something?”
She asked as she noticed the paper bag in my hand.
Without answering her question, I gently handed the paper bag to her.
Puzzled, Ageha rummaged around in the paper bag and pulled out what was inside.
Carefully peeling off the wrapping, a pink glove appeared.
She stared at the gloves she took out as if she were dumbfounded, and then immediately raised her head to look at me.
Her eyes were full of anticipation and joy, waiting for my next words.
Chuckling at her obvious reaction, I gave a small nod.
“Well, it’s a present, but it’s a cheap one, so it’s okay if you lose it.”
Being the sloppy person that she is, I’m sure she will lose it next year.
I told her in advance that it was not that expensive, so she did not have to worry about it.
Then, she shook her head.
“I won’t lose it! …I’ll never lose this one.”
Hugging the gloves tightly, Ageha says in a strong tone of voice.
Then she looked up and put on a big smile.
“Thank you, Haru-kun! I’ll take good care of it.”
Once again, I saw Ageha happily clutching the gloves to her chest, and I was truly glad that I had bought them.
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