A few minutes later…
In Music Room #2, which alone seemed to have been completely forgotten in the excitement of the school festival…
Setsuna stood waiting in front of Haruki, in the same posture Kazusa had taken a short while earlier.
The last rays of the setting sun shone weakly in through the window.
But, in all likelihood, that glow would vanish within the next ten minutes, its existence buried in darkness.
Haruki didn’t notice Setsuna’s stare in the least.
But that was only natural. After all, since yesterday—or for the past several days, more likely—he had been exerting himself with no sleep, polishing his guitar playing, helping Kazusa recover from her sickness, and encouraging Setsuna.
However, he wasn’t the only one who didn’t notice Setsuna there.
The one who, just now, had flown from the classroom… The one who had nestled up to Setsuna this morning, sleeping…
She hadn’t noticed Setsuna because she was deeply agitated.
Because she was focused solely and heavily on a single feeling.
Because, unexpectedly, she “wasn’t that strong,” as she had said.
…Perhaps because she just didn’t care about Setsuna at that moment.
That’s not right… Touma-san.
The remark she had murmured a moment before came out again, with stronger feeling this time.
She resented Haruki, sleeping there next to her without a care in the world.
But she realized that that was probably exactly what Kazusa had been feeling a few minutes earlier, and felt a rush of sympathy, together with an agitation that was even more complicated and intense.
At this moment, Setsuna knew how Kazusa was feeling.
Because they had slept next to each other this morning.
Because, having tired of arguing, they snuggled up with each other and slept, like best friends.
Their hearts had connected with one another then.
Even if it had been concerning a single boy, they had confirmed their friendship with one another, and numerous other feelings, as a result.
Why… Why now?
But, half a day had passed…
Within that half a day, the balance Setsuna had built up between the three of them had abruptly collapsed.
It wasn’t Kazusa’s fault. It wasn’t Haruki’s fault.
And it certainly wasn’t Setsuna’s fault… But it had been her mistake.
There was no lie in the way Kazusa felt then.
She clearly meant to treasure her friendship with Setsuna.
She wanted to accept Setsuna as her best friend.
But, she hadn’t been able to switch the order of priority between “friendship” and “love.”
This is because of me.
Even though there was no liability in it, Setsuna accepted the blunder as her fault.
She was in the wrong for forcing such an unreasonable demand.
It had been unreasonable for her to ask for a relationship as “best friends who share feelings for the same person.”
If that love was never to reach anyone, Setsuna’s wish probably could have been granted.
If it was never to reach anyone, then they could have talked to each other about their feelings for him, ridiculed each other for feeling so strongly, envied, shared, laughed, raged, cried, and steadily deepened their friendship as two girls, deepened their yearning for the boy…
They could have enjoyed what Setsuna called their “middle-school love” as much as they liked.
But, ironically, the one they loved was within arm’s reach of both of them at this point.
Because he faced girls, faced everyone, straight-on.
Because he spoke to these two in particular in an especially honest, unaffected manner.
No, maybe she was just making excuses. In reality, there may have been a tiny difference in the way he treated the two of them, but Setsuna herself certainly had a chance…
I’ve made up my mind.
But Setsuna cut her reasoning off before it could progress any further.
She didn’t want to reach a conclusion she didn’t want to know.
She would rather…
I can give up on Haruki-kun.
I’m going to support Kazusa.