Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
After running the 200-meter race, there was a lunch break. It was difficult to run that distance when I had lost my motivation and stamina, and all I could do was avoid being ranked last.
I received the two catered lunches provided and headed to the cottage where Arisu-chan was waiting.
“O~i, I bought you the lunch box.”
“Thank you very much. Please come this way.”
Somehow, I felt Arisu-chan’s tone was higher than usual.
Perhaps she was happy to see me?
“Ooh, this looks delicious.”
“You’re right. I heard this is some high-quality catering from outside the school.”
I immediately opened the lunch box and started eating. I moved my body so much that I was starving now. There was also a sense of accomplishment in getting through the sports festival, so it felt even more delicious.
Anyway, I was glad I managed to make it through without injury. I wanted to avoid any situation that might affect my ability to take care of Arisu-chan. Just by being safe, I considered it a perfect score.
“Will you stay with me in the afternoon?”
“Of course. There are no more events I have to participate in, so I see no reason to be apart from you.”
Come to think of it, where did Kouenji go?
I wanted to thank him, but I couldn’t see him anywhere.
“If you’re looking for Kouenji-kun, he left somewhere after leaving the message ‘There’s no need to thank me’ before Haruto-kun came.”
Uwah, that really sounded like something Kouenji might do.
Although I did think he was weird, I was grateful to him for today’s matter. It was hard to think he would come and ask something from me, but if it ever happened, let’s help him.
Everyone was eating their lunch in a place they liked, such as around the athletic field or the school building. However, it seemed there was nobody else who was coming to this cottage. It blocked the heat and it wasn’t that uncomfortable. I guess it was a good idea to spend today with Arisu-chan here, just the two of us. That was what I thought, but…
At that moment, a student sat next to me. I was surprised by the appearance of an unexpected person.
“Is it okay if I ate my lunch together with you two?”
The girl who gave a soft smile was Shiina Hiyori. It had been a while since she talked to us back on the ship.
…Why did she come to us at this time?
I had no idea what her intention was. Arisu-chan seemed to think the same and strengthened her vigilance.
“Fufu, there’s no need to be that wary. I just wanted to get along with you two.”
She nodded as she said that. Perhaps something happened in her class.
The girl named Shiina Hiyori gave off the impression that she would stick to her own way. Of course, she wasn’t the same type as Horikita, but it felt like she was living in her own world. Although I had no idea what kind of relationship she had with Ryuuen, at the very least, she had enough freedom to contact us on her own like this. Considering it was Ryuuen, this was enough to be considered a special treatment.
“I don’t think Shiina-san is a weak person who can’t endure your solitude. If you have other purposes in mind, please tell us. Asking to get along with us without revealing your goal… is something difficult for me to accept.”
Arisu-chan stared at her intently, searching for the true meaning of her words.
“You overestimate me. I’m not as strong as you say I am. But if you say you can’t trust me… then let’s talk about this. Regarding what is going on right now.”
I finished my meal while we were talking, so I collected the trash and organized the surroundings.
After taking a sip of water, I prepared to listen to her story.
“Ryuuen-kun is thinking that it doesn’t matter how much they lose at this sports festival.”
As I expected, Ryuuen didn’t seem to care about winning.
As I nodded and urged her to continue, Shiina-san made a surprised face.
“So you actually knew that. Amazing…”
“No, this is more something intuitive. It’s not that I read beforehand, just something I thought might be possible.”
Rather, I was surprised I actually managed to read that. It felt like the thoughts were leaking out.
“Even if that was the case, I still think it is amazing… let me continue. Ryuuen-kun’s purpose lies in a different place than victory. However, not everyone seems to understand that.”
It was something obvious. Not everyone was a genius who could know everything by just knowing part of it. The act of putting a group together meant, in other words, the worst fellow would drag their feet.
Since it was Ryuuen, he should understand that much, though…
“In particular, Ryuuen doesn’t like to explain… other than the students who are usually close to him, others only see him as a leader that just keeps on losing.”
“…In other words, people are suspecting his ability is not as great as he claims to be?”
“That’s exactly the case. Recently, you could even hear someone say ‘naked king’ to refer to him. The fire that calmed down as the tyrant ruled the class is about to rekindle.”
I knew what she meant.
Ruling through violence obviously meant the ruler had to stay strong. His continuous defeats raised doubts about his “strength”.
During this sports festival, Ryuuen was defeated with another goal in mind according to Shiina-san. However, the people around him didn’t think that way. Following the exam on the cruise, he gave off the impression that he got toyed around by Class A.
Above all, there was the fact that he failed to prevent three students of his class from being expelled. It was only natural that his influence was being questioned.
Regardless of how many times he was defeated, he would always stand up and win in the end. That could be considered a genius way of thinking and something that he could do because he was Ryuuen. For a common student, it was difficult to find a similar tough mentality.
If he explained things carefully and politely, they might understand, but…
“Even if he tells the truth, it’s doubtful whether others will honestly accept it considering his method of control. That said, it’s impossible for him to change his stance and get along with the rest of the class… this is quite difficult.”
She suddenly started laughing. Why did she do so at this time?
…I guess she was quite a curious person. She was the type of person I had never been involved with before.
“Ah, I’m sorry. Even though we could hardly be considered close, I couldn’t help but feel happy that you listened to me seriously. You… have your ‘kindness’ I see. Perhaps that’s the reason that many people are drawn to you?”
For some reason, Shiina-san was getting excited. Arisu-chan looked at that and seemed to be thinking.
How much of Shiina-san’s transparent eyes could see through us?
Since she said we could address her casually, I decided to call her Hiyori.
“What kind of book do you read, Hiyori-san?”
The two girls began to talk about reading. Hiyori seemed to get along well with the knowledgeable Arisu-chan and she looked like she was having fun.
During middle school, Arisu-chan was always reading some kind of book during class. She read various genres of books and chose a different theme every day. Perhaps it was used to quell her boredom, but she did read through a lot of stuff.
…I was surprised at her excellent memory that she could memorize the content just by skimming through the book.
“Haruto-kun, aren’t you interested in reading?”
“U~hn, I do have interest in it, but honestly, I just didn’t have the opportunity. Back in middle school, I didn’t have much time to devote to my hobbies after all.”
I answered Hiyori’s question without thinking much.
Ah, perhaps I said the wrong thing. But it was already too late when I noticed it.
“I-I’m terribly sorry. It’s my fault. It’s because I have treated you horribly over the years… I don’t know how to apologize. How can I make amends?”
“Aah, no, I didn’t mean that as sarcasm.”
Arisu-chan’s eyes moistened. She was so vulnerable these days that it was hard to take care not to hurt her. After I embraced her tightly and stroked her, she calmed down a little and looked up at me.
Hiyori looked at our behavior with interest.
“Arisu-san and Haruto-kun, both of you are really two in one. It is an enviable relationship.”
“…It’s because I can’t live without him.”
Arisu-chan muttered while grabbing my clothes with both hands.
She already returned to her usual expression. As expected… she really was no good without me.
Before I knew it, the lunch break was over. However, our break would continue until the end of the sports festival.
We had no intention of supporting our class at all, so we decided to keep talking without leaving the cottage.
“…I see, so Hiyori is also getting criticized recently.”
As we got along with Hiyori, we found out what she really wanted to talk about.
She had a gentle personality that disliked conflict and tended to immerse herself in her hobbies. The people who got demoted to Class D seemed to consider her an unmotivated person. Because of her aloofness, she didn’t seem to have received open criticism before, but the group who got cornered began to search for a scapegoat.
…That said, Morofuji would be on the receiving end of that once she returned from her suspension. Hiyori should have understood that she only needed to endure until then, but perhaps there was a circumstance that prevented her from enduring it.
“The atmosphere in the class made it hard to even have lunch… from the beginning of the second trimester, there were even people who followed me to the library and spoke ill of me behind my back. They even made sure their voices could be heard by me, so it made me really sad.”
“That sounds terrible.”
“Because of that, I didn’t even feel like going there recently.”
Hiyori said that with a sad expression.
She could no longer use the library she loved. This situation was too painful for a bookworm like her. She desperately asked us for help, hoping something could be done about that.
“For Hiyori-san, it must be hard not being able to read books.”
“It would be best if I could buy some for myself, but I don’t have enough points to buy as many books as I wanted… to be honest, I don’t know what to do. I’m sorry for ending up complaining like this.”
All my questions were answered and I was completely convinced. Of course, she would have it hard.
The fact she still didn’t get angry despite being treated like that showed the wonderful personality Hiyori had. That was why I felt a righteous resentment toward those who troubled people like this. That was why I made full use of my stupid brain to think of a method to make sure she could go to the library.
“…For at least twice a week, let’s make after school a time to read books together.”
I came up with an idea surprisingly quickly. It wouldn’t solve the root problem, but it wasn’t a bad idea.
“Of course, the place will be the library. Why don’t we enjoy the world of books together there? With us accompanying you, I think there will be fewer people disturbing you, Hiyori. I’m confident with how bad my reputation is, you know?”
Now it reached this point, the strange nickname and the rumor accompanying it seemed to be useful.
Except for my friends, the number of people who got involved with me was very small, as most students avoided me.
If I suddenly started reading with Hiyori, I think people around would leave on their own. It was because they were scared, and I could expect a certain deterrent effect against being talked badly.
In addition, I also became interested in the habit of reading. If I could read books in peace, wouldn’t that be the best? In a rough life forced in this school, the peaceful time with her might serve as an oasis in my heart.
“T-thank you very much. Why are you willing to do that much for me?”
“Hiyori is my friend after all. There’s no need for a reason to help a friend in need.”
As Hiyori heard my words, she smiled happily.
“Yes, Haruto-kun and Arisu-chan are my friends. Please take care of me from now on.”
She showed me a bursting smile for the first time. It was so fascinating that I wanted to watch it forever. If I could see this smile with a little action, it was a cheap price to pay.
Another unique member had been added to our friendship.
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