Otherwise known as Valentine’s Day. It’s the day when maidens in love display their skills and compete against each other.
But in my case, instead of giving a chocolate as a present to my sweetheart, I thought of Valentine’s as an excuse for me to make as much chocolate as I want. I made it my goal every year to watch my family and friends eat the chocolates I made and hear them say that it was delicious.
Well, it was… until last year.
Believe it or not, I’m now in a relationship with the amazing ‘Kurasaka Hiori’. Since I already have my own valentine, it wouldn’t do for me to hand out chocolates to just anyone this year. So, I had decided to prepare gifts only for my family and Hiori.
She has a dainty, maiden-like trait in her after all. She would definitely get in a bad mood if I gave chocolates to others, too. She would say that she doesn’t mind, but there’s no doubt that she would keep her grouch to herself. She’s the type who holds a grudge, so it might stay for a month or so.
And so, I woke up early this morning and gave the chocolates to my parents, Saki, Rumi, Tsubaki, and Hiori. They all received it happily, and I’m really glad to be able to hear the word ‘delicious’ from them.
That’s——how today was supposed to end.
“But, why did it come to this?”
I thought Valentine’s would have ended with no problem to note. But, the unexpected thing happened at school.
“W-wow… This is amazing, Hinata-san.”
“Weird… We’re attending a co-ed school, not a girls’ high…… Besides, I don’t remember when I have become anyone’s Onee-sama… I’m not the school idol, either.”
There are chocolates and cookies with beautiful wrappings piling on my desk. It’s not to the point that they’re spilling from it, but I can confirm that there are over 10 of them in total. At first, I thought they were misplaced for some reason, but they’re all attached with cards AND my name written on them in neat characters.
Well, this is not my first time receiving chocolates, though. Valentine’s landed on Sunday last year, so my close friends ended up having to hand over their friends chocolates the next day. And even before that, I made it a yearly tradition to exchange chocolates with my friends.
Although, this is the first time I’ve ever received so many chocolates one-sidedly. How is it even possible for the most handsome guy in class to receive less than me who is a girl?
“Hinata-san has many friends after all, not to mention that you’re quite popular. I think it’s natural that you would receive at least this much.”
“Eh? May I inquire about what you just said, Ms. Tsubaki?”
“Fufu, did you know? My classmates talk about Hinata-san sometimes.”
Wait, what? That’s terrifying. Who and what kind of rumors are they spreading about me?
“They said that you’re smart, and reliable.”
“…You must have misheard.”
Her classmates must have been talking about someone else with a similar name, yup. Although, Tsubaki shakes her head sideways while giggling to herself.
“They also mentioned that your grades always made it to the top rankings, you have outstanding athletic abilities… And as if those weren’t enough to make you stand out, you have a kind personality that you never ignore people in trouble. Above all, they like the way you look so mature sometimes.”
People actually have that kind of impression on me?! Aren’t they looking through rose-colored glasses or something?!
“All the girls were praising you, you know? They said that you would listen to their worries when you’re not even acquainted with each other… You would also help them and come to their rescue when they’re in trouble.”
With an adorable smile on her face, Tsubaki adds that listening to their praises about me makes her feel proud. Well, I guess it’s true that I’ve meddled with her classmates quite a few times, even though I don’t really know them personally. Although… I don’t remember ever doing anything that would make me stand out as she said.
“So… these are all obligatory… rather, friends chocolates, right?”
I nervously reach for one of the chocolates from the pile and take a closer look. This one is clearly handmade. After that, I look at the other chocolates, but no matter which I pick, they’re all are either handmade, or expensive. These are clearly not given to me with halfhearted intentions. I finish checking all of them, and I feel concerned.
“What do I do…… I already declared to Hiori that I wouldn’t accept chocolates from anyone other than my family.”
I already told my friends beforehand that I wouldn’t take their chocolates this year because I wasn’t going to prepare anything for them. But, I really didn’t expect that I would receive something from people that I don’t really know. That was careless of me.
“If only they gave it in person, I could’ve gotten the chance to refuse them.”
This morning, when I came to the classroom, there were already a few chocolates stored in my desk. During the lunch break, when I return to my class after having lunch with Tsubaki in the schoolyard, there were more chocolates placed on my desk. And now, after school, I was on trash duty, so I went to throw away the trash in the dumping ground, but the number has increased again by the time I returned… Honestly, it feels a bit like a horror flick.
Although they properly wrote my name on the cards, they left out their own names. I don’t have the option to return them like this.
“Hinata-san… even if they gave the chocolates to you in person, I believe that you would receive them anyway.”
“Hrm… that’s not…”
“Are you sure?”
I keep silent, unable to refute her. Maybe Tsubaki is right, I might end up receiving them even if they gave me the chocolates directly.
“No matter what happens, Hinata-san would never refuse anyone’s favor like that. After explaining about the situation to them properly, I believe that you would still accept their gifts.”
I can’t say anything back, not when she declares it so confidently.
“I’m sure Mom won’t rebuke you for this.”
“……I sure hope so.”
I have a feeling that she would be really displeased if she knows that I’ve received all these chocolates. But, listening to Tsubaki makes me feel like it’s all going to turn out okay. Either way, I intend to tell her without hiding it. After all… I don’t want to lie to her.
“Alright, I’ll brace myself and tell Hiori the truth! Tsubaki, I’m counting on you to back me up!”
“…Y-you’re exaggerating it.”
“With that decided, let’s go home~ I think Hiori should be heading home from work anytime now.”
I proceed to cram all of the chocolates from the desk into my bag. Although, it’s already full just from putting 5 of them. Eh, what do I do now? There are still more than half to go….
“I brought an English-Japanese dictionary and a Japanese language dictionary today… so my bag is already full.”
“T-that sounds heavy.”
I guess Tsubaki is the type who brings everything home. It’s a hassle to carry everything home every day, not to mention how heavy they are. That’s why I keep most of my things in the locker.
Now then, how do I carry these chocolates home? …I definitely won’t carry them in my hands, though! It’d be too embarrassing!
“Hey! The popular girl over there! Use this!”
Suddenly, a plastic bag flutters towards me, which spurs me to catch it. I look in the direction of the classroom door and I can see my classmate, a girl that I’m close with, standing there while making a strange pose.
While I’m still at a loss of words, she gives me a thumbs up before gallantly leaving to who knows where. Tsubaki and I can only look at each other in bewilderment.
“What was that about?”
“…Who knows? But with this, I can carry all the chocolates easily. She’s a lifesaver.”
I stuff the remaining chocolates into the plastic bag. Yup, I can bring everything home like this. I’ll have to thank my buddy for her great help tomorrow.
After taking all my things, we leave the empty classroom.
…We walk along the corridor for a while, and I come to a stop. Tsubaki who is falling a few steps behind stops as though to match me.
I turn around to see Tsubaki tilting her head in confusion.
“Your bag. It’s heavy, right? I’ll carry half for you.”
“Eh? But Hinata-san, you’re already carrying so many things…”
I say nothing as I reach my hand towards her. Tsubaki makes a troubled face, but she soon loosens up and makes an embarrassed smile.
“Okay, let’s go—”
With a bag slung over one shoulder and a plastic bag of chocolates in one hand, I carry half of her bag with my other hand. It feels nostalgic somehow. Come to think of it, I feel like we’ve done something like this when we first met.
She looks puzzled as she peers into my face, and I laugh it off.
We make idle chatters as we walk side by side towards home.
It’s only the two of us, me and Hiori in the living room. Tsubaki has taken refuge in her room just a while ago.
…My stomach starts hurting from the tension.
“Here I was wondering what you were up to when you suddenly began lining up the pile of chocolates that you brought…”
She sighs and looks at me with an astonished expression.
…I have finished recounting the whole story a moment ago, and I’m getting really afraid to hear what she’s going to say. Really, I wanna run away from here. Hiori, with her poker face, is staring at the chocolates that I received one by one on the table.”
“So? Are you here to boast how you’ve managed to obtain all these?”
“That’s not my intention…”
“…I’m just messing with you. Don’t look so down.”
When I look up, unlike my expectation, I can see Hiori making a gentle smile. H-huh? She’s not angry? Even though I broke my promise?
“…Say, Hinata. Have you read the message cards?”
“Message cards? You mean, the cards they used to write my name on? Was there something else written other than my name?”
Hiori takes one of the wrappings and carefully tears the card off. She holds it out to me, so I nervously take it from her hand. Hm? Although my name is the only thing written on the front, there’s something else on the back side.
—— Thank you very much for helping me when I was left doing all the work by myself during the culture festival. I made these for you as thanks, so please have some if you would like.
The culture festival? If I recall… there was a girl doing some work alone at the sports ground, so I went to help her… I think. I can’t really remember. Does it mean that she gave me these chocolates as thanks for that time? She’s really conscientious to remember something that happened way back, and she even prepared something as a gift.
“How about you go ahead and read all of them?”
I peel off the cards one by one to look at the back side. Each of them is written with a similar message.
—— During the marathon the other day, you noticed that I was forcing myself even though I was feeling unwell. That is why you called out to me, right? I was so happy when you lent me your shoulder and supported me all the way to where the teacher was waiting. I had been wanting to thank you, but it is kind of difficult for me to do it since we are in different classes. Sorry for not saying this in person. Thank you.
—— You gave me sweets when I was feeling down. Thank you, you made me so happy. You saved me.
They’re all letters to convey their gratitude to me. I can vaguely remember all the events that are written, but I didn’t think I would be thanked like this even though I did nothing much.
“Still, I wonder why they didn’t write their names on the cards… They didn’t have to leave out their names… It’s not like they’re writing for their crush or something.”
“Isn’t that because they simply want to convey their ‘gratitude’ to you? Knowing you, you would prepare something for White Day. In that case, it wouldn’t hold as a gratitude, would it… even though they’re the ones who wanted to return their favors to you.”
“I believe they decided to give you these on Valentine’s Day after hearing that you like eating confections and sweet things from somewhere.”
Hiori approaches me and gives me a hug from behind. It’s rare for her to be the one who initiates it, so it surprises me a bit.
“You must be thinking that you were only being the meddlesome person who did everything ‘for your own sake’ or something along the line, aren’t you? But, there’s no doubt that they wanted to thank you exactly because you’re that kind of person.”
I didn’t do those things for gratitude. I did them just because I wanted to. But… if my selfish meddlings make everyone happy, then it makes me really happy, too.
Although I want to find everyone who gave me these chocolates, but I guess it’ll be impolite of me. After all, I’ll end up trampling over their feelings.
That’s why, I’ll gratefully accept their gratitude.
“You seem happy.”
“I guess so. Although I wasn’t expecting this, being thanked makes me happy.”
“Frankly… even though I’m well aware that these are appreciation gifts and not romantic ones… Knowing that you received these chocolates makes me slightly jealous.”
“But more than that, I feel proud. After all, it’s the reason I fell in love with you in the first place. It’s because ‘this is just the way you are’.”
Then, she puts something in my grasp. I look downward to see that it’s a brown hand-knitted muffler and gloves.
“I can’t make chocolates… so I can only prepare these things.”
“What are you saying?! I’m so happy to receive them!”
I pile my hand on top of Hiori’s.
“…Thank you for everything that you’ve done for me. I suppose I’m another person who feels grateful to you.”
“Same here. Thank you for the muffler and gloves, I’ll use them dearly.”
We exchange a light kiss before making a distance from each other. As reluctant as I am, I’m not sure about generating a sweet mood with Hiori when Tsubaki is home. Besides, she must be worried about us. I need to tell her that it’s all been resolved.
When, I make haste to Tsubaki’s room to tell her that everything’s fine, she looks relieved and smiles for me. The two of us return to the living room and join Hiori at the table.
“Still, Hinata-san, are you going to eat all of these chocolates?”
“Yup. Otherwise, I think it’d be rude to the ones who gave them to me.”
“Although I agree with your sentiment… isn’t this amount too much for you to eat alone?”
“…Well, I’ll manage by eating little by little for several days.”
Considering the shelf life, I guess I should eat the handmade ones first and put off the bought ones for later. With some effort, I think I’ll be able to finish everything in a week.
“Sorry for intruding—”
All of a sudden, Rumi and Saki has come to visit. Both of them are carrying paper bags in their hands. Wait, could it be?
“…Things are looking amazing, too, this year.”
“It’s sad to be on the receiving side when I’m a girl myself.”
Rumi laughs with a troubled face, while Saki breathes a sigh as though she’s fed up with it.
They receive plenty of chocolates on every Valentine’s Day.
On top of being a teacher at the girls’ high, Rumi is popular among her students. Thanks to that, the majority of the girls in her class would come to her and say, ‘Thank you for always taking care of us♪’ while giving chocolates to her. Even though she’s warned them not to bring it to school, she still ends up receiving a large amount every year.
In Saki’s case, the small girl is loved by everyone. She mainly receives chocolates from her seniors and classmates. Although she likes eating them, she feels as though she’s being treated like a pet to be fed. Apparently, she has mixed feelings about it.
“Although I’m happy to receive all these, it’s impossible to finish all of them myself. Besides, I also need to think about how to return the favors…”
As fellow girls who always receive many chocolates, they seem to understand each other well. It’s true that preparing for the return gifts sounds like a lot of work… I’m helping Saki prepare her gifts every year, though.
“Huh? The chocolates on the table, are those…?”
“Yes, they’re all for Hinata.”
She squints her eyes, looking full of skepticism. I’m sure she wants to criticize me for taking all these chocolates when I already have Hiori… It seems that I should explain it to her properly later to dispel any misunderstandings.
“Onee-chan, even though you didn’t make anything for anyone beside us, you still accepted all these chocolates.”
“It seems that my popularity period has finally arrived.”
I got denied in a swift stroke.
So cruel. Reality is cruel. I slump my shoulders, and Hiori leaks out a giggle. Well, I don’t really mind as long as she’s here for me.
“Although, since I’ll be busy eating my own chocolates, Saki and Mom will have to eat your portion just the two of you this year.”
“Eeh—! There’s no way Mom and I can finish eating all of this pile!”
“Do your best.”
“You’re so cold-hearted!”
“…The Hayase family sure has it tough. Oops, I’m not one to talk. Um, Hiori-san, Tsubaki-chan, I’ll really appreciate it if you can help me eat them this year, too…”
“There’s no helping it.”
“Yes, I’ll gladly eat them for you.”
“Thanks~♪ I’m saved~”
And so, we eat our respective chocolates as we chat. The room is gradually filled with the sweet aroma of chocolates. No matter how much I like sweets, I’m already full just from eating two of them. I don’t think I want to eat chocolates for a while.
“Ah, we should go home before Mom yells at us.”
It’s already dark outside the window. I think Mother has returned home from work and is now preparing for dinner.
“Urp, I’m already full, though…”
“Finish your dinner with guts.”
“Sorry, Hiori. We’re going home for today.”
“Yes, take care.”
“See you, Nee- I mean, Hinata-chan, and Saki-chan.”
Saki and I get up from our chairs and head towards the entryway. But along the way, I can feel someone tugging at the hem of my clothes. I turn around to see that Tsubaki is holding onto my clothes timidly.
She holds out a small box with a pretty wrapping. Considering the date, there can only be one thing inside it.
“Hinata-san, although you’re already troubled to receive all those chocolates… um, I need to give this to you today… I’m sorry.”
I calmly take the chocolates that she’s hesitating to give. Tsubaki glances at the chocolates that I’m carrying in a plastic bag. Then she hangs her head, seemingly apologetic about it.
…Being too reserved is one of her bad habits. She doesn’t need to apologize, not in the slightest.
I lightly poke Tsubaki’s head, and she raises her face in surprise. I end up laughing from her cute reaction, which makes her pout as she blushes.
“It goes without saying that I’m as happy as a clam to receive a chocolate from you.”
“Thank you, Tsubaki.”
As Tsubaki turns all smiles, I give her my thanks, as well as a goodbye before leaving with Saki.
Thus, our Valentine’s ended with no problems to note.