Rainy Days and Mondays – I

White Album 2 Short Story Collection


Rainy Days and Mondays


White Hairband/Einshalt



This work makes use of characters and settings from the game White Album 2, by Aquaplus and Leaf.

Also, both of the stories included here serve as an after story for Setsuna’s route in Coda from the original game.





Rainy Days and Mondays


Brilliant Love




Cover illustration: Touya Ayase (Blue Garden)



Rainy Days and Mondays



It was a day in the latter half of June, a Monday.

A day right in the midst of the rainy season, drizzling lightly, with the threat of worse.


“Oh, Haruki-kun, I think there’s something over there, too.”
“Oh, yeah…”

Beneath an umbrella that was not especially large, Setsuna grabbed my hand.

As she pulled me along, a bit more assertively than usual, I barely managed to keep my hand holding the umbrella in place, trying to keep her from getting wet, at the very least.

And as we stepped off the cobbled footpath we’d been following, onto the stepping-stones of a side path, the rainwater gathered there wet my leather shoes.

It must have been the same for Setsuna, but she showed no sign whatsoever of caring, continuing to pull me along by the hand and seemingly enjoying herself.

Looking around, beyond her, I saw a carved statue shrouded in a white veil of rain, and beyond that, faintly visible, the forms of a great many mountain trees.

Calling this place “stately” might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the mountains of Hakone were certainly stately enough for a pair of people who lived in Tokyo, surrounded by concrete and asphalt.

Currently, the two of us were in the outdoor gardens of the Takahara Art Gallery, located in one area of the mountains.

What were we doing in a place like this on a Monday? That was a matter of a few hours earlier.

One could say we both decided to take a vacation… but it would be more accurate to say we had lined up our compensatory holidays for working on days off a short while back. We had just finished making various arrangements for our wedding in Onjuku.

Monday was meant to be our first day back, so it was certainly nice to have an unexpected free day, but on the other hand, we’d already finished up all the business we’d planned for, so we weren’t really sure what to do with this sudden opening.

So we strolled aimlessly through the streets of Onjuku, looking for anything that could serve as a date—or at least a time-killer—but nothing of any note was really coming to mind.

After we had let the flow of people carry us back to the ticket gate, Setsuna, standing at my side, asked, “What should we do?” Then, before I could answer, she said, “Ah! What about that, Haruki-kun?” I followed the line of her pointer finger to an advertisement for the very art gallery where we now stood.

At first, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about the idea of a sudden afternoon trip, with the weather being what it was, but I could tell that Setsuna was now in a positive mood, a complete change from the air she’d been giving off.

So, with her encouragement, I found myself at the ticket window, buying two limited express tickets to Hakone…


“Haruki-kun, you don’t seem very excited to be here.”

As I thought back over the road we had taken here, some part of it must have shown in my expression or my manner; I realized that Setsuna had stopped walking and was gazing up at my face.

“Huh? Oh, no—”

I started to try to smooth out my face to keep my inner panic from showing through, then remembered that the stage of keeping up a perfect façade around my partner just because we were on a date was long since passed, and after a moment, I slightly revised my expression.

“Well, I’ll admit I wouldn’t have thought to do something like this on such a rainy day…”

I considered how I must look, in my rain-spattered clothes, and smiled wryly.

The fact was, this was a day off, and I had more or less dressed for the occasion, but I hadn’t anticipated that we would end up on an excursion to Hakone, so I felt a little incongruous. For this, too, I had to laugh at myself.

“But, on the other hand, why not do it with this weather? There aren’t many people around. We’ve practically got this place to ourselves.”

Setsuna smiled, lightly blowing off my personal thoughts with a question of her own.

It was true—as she said, there were very few people to be seen in the area, and in our immediate vicinity, there was no one but us two.

I didn’t have any notion of how crowded it would be on a normal day, but it certainly could be called ideal conditions for leisurely looking around and taking in the views.

“Yeah, I suppose, but…”

With a different sort of wry smile, I moved the umbrella to keep her covered as she began walking again. Putting aside that there was some truth in what she’d said, her smile as she said it showed that there had never been any other option, so I let my sentence trail off, and simply gazed at her happy profile.

          Well, this being the case, though…

In the grass of the outdoor gardens was a slightly different, unusual area, with a line of avant-garde (I assumed—with my ignorance of fine art, I couldn’t say for sure) sculptures.

We had come here for spontaneous sightseeing, and this weather was far from desirable for scenery, but for that exact reason, when Setsuna put herself in this unusual space, my eyes followed her.

And—as Setsuna had pointed out—though there were probably more people here normally, human figures were sparse at the moment. Getting to share an umbrella with Setsuna, huddled up and walking around openly and legitimately with her, was an unanticipated bonus.

Granted, I had been aware of my own self-interest just now, and I knew for a fact that if I were to actually say something corny like “I’d rather admire you than admire the works of art, Setsuna,” she would snub me for the entire week, so I would die before I let the words leave my lips, but…

“Is this… a dog?”

After she pulled me through a thicket of trees, we approached a different garden.

Right next to the entrance was a geometrical statue, lying down in the grass—or maybe it would be more accurate to say it was clinging to the ground, with all four limbs outstretched, almost groveling.

“Not sure. It looks a bit like a cat, too.”

The form of the sculpture, made of circles and triangles connected together, did look like a dog, as Setsuna said, but also resembled a cat, depending on how one looked at it—in other words, it looked like some kind of animal, but that was about all that could be said for sure.

I felt a bit as though we were trying to solve a mystery with no answer.


Then, showing no hesitation before the falling raindrops, Setsuna began moving left and right, shifting her point of view, going as far as to bend over and crouch down—trying to comprehend the shape of this thing by viewing it from as many angles as possible.

Meanwhile, like any proper assistant, I was busily moving the umbrella around every time she changed her position, and my eyes naturally shifted to her, rather than the sculpture.

“Huh. Yeah, I think I’m going to say it looks like a dog.”

Crouched down and looking very small with her arms around her knees, skirt and all, Setsuna repeated her assessment from a moment before, not taking her eyes off the sculpture. Then, suddenly, she set her right elbow on her kneecap, propping up her face, and glanced up at me.

“Haruki-kun, you’re in the Literature department. Don’t you know about this kind of stuff? You know, cognitive theory, or metaphysics, or…”
“Uh, no, that’s not something I can just pull out of the air…”

For a moment, my heart jumped at her movement—but I found the words to make an answer somehow, half-scolding her for her tone as she tossed out these scattered terms.

‘Yes, I’m in the Literature department, but that’s getting into philosophy and psychology, and a hasty Literature major transfer like me has no connection with either of those subjects’—Setsuna was, of course, probably fully aware of this information…

And, sure enough, as though she knew it fully well, or was simply enjoying my reaction, she looked up at me, still crouching, and chuckled, hiding her mouth behind her hand.

“You’re no fun, Haruki-kun. I gave you this nice opportunity to show off in front of your girlfriend…”

After laughing for a moment longer at my feet, she brought up her other hand to prop up the other side of her face, and grinned broadly.

“I don’t think we’re at a point in our relationship when I need to be showing off…”

As we were right on the cusp of getting married, I wasn’t sure how to feel about the kind of suggestion that made it sound like we were in a rut, but so it was.

“Honestly, Haruki-kun. You’re always so blunt.”

But Setsuna didn’t seem to have taken it the same way; after hearing my reply, remaining in her crouch, her mood seemingly a bit dented, she abruptly physically turned her face away from me, as though her gaze had only landed on me by mistake.


In an attempt to lighten things, I spoke up, hoping to get a look at her current expression.

Meanwhile, from the back, I was sensing something petulant in her—I know that way of putting it makes it sound like I was treating her like a child, but—I felt a smile spontaneously forming at how cute it was.

It had been years since we’d started dating, but I hadn’t seen her like this during a date in some time… Yes, it felt like it had been a very long time.

Back during the window between graduating college and finding employment—particularly right after we’d reestablished our relationship, maybe because there was still some awkwardness left on both sides—this had happened quite a bit…

“Um, I’m sorry…”

Looking back on that period, I remembered what I would always do at moments like this.

I drew near to her, crouching down so that we would be at the same eye level, umbrella still held high, and gently put my hand on her shoulder. In the slightly chilly mountain air, her shoulder felt warm, somehow.


Fortunately, she didn’t shake off my hand—her mood must not have been that badly damaged—and she slowly turned toward me, giving me a sidelong look.


So far, so good… But I hadn’t anticipated the turn. There was a bit of a pout still left in her profile, so charming that it drew my eye right to it, and I froze up, unable to find further words.


It was like a sudden marriage meeting—or those times when I could do nothing but flounder as she looked at me. Even in those awkward moments, I could find something to say; but before that, Setsuna gave a light burst of laughter, broke into a grin, and covered her mouth.


As I repeated the same thing I’d said moments before (with a slightly different feeling behind it) and gave her a look of confusion, she laughed for some time, then wiped the corners of her eyes and finally spoke.

“Sorry, sorry. There’s just something funny to me about the two of us doing this.”

Setsuna moved her gaze to indicate our respective postures, her voice contrasting completely with the look that had just been on her face. As for me, my doubts had finally been dispelled by her words, and like her, I moved my head, considering the two of us and our surroundings.

Yes, there was something slightly discordant in the image of two fully grown adults, crouched down in the corner of a garden beneath a single umbrella, in this weather, staring at each other… Depending on how you looked at it, there could be something surreal about it—a sight inviting laughter, to some.

“We haven’t done anything like this in a while.”

I watched Setsuna smile again, as though she had just remembered precisely the same thing I had, and nodded, with a slightly wry laugh.

There had been times when we got into a fight over something completely trivial and pointless in the middle of a date, sometimes unable to resolve it on the spot, the effects lasting on into the future, causing problems even for Setsuna’s family; and it wasn’t as though there hadn’t been times when she got slightly—no, majorly—fed up with me.

“Well, I do feel like I’m mostly the one at fault here…”
“Huh… You think? I can remember causing you a lot of trouble by being childish, Haruki-kun…”

With all of these bittersweet (for me) memories coming back, I smiled with a little more strain than before; in contrast to which, Setsuna replied with even greater apparent delight.

Well, yes, maybe we both had our own views of the whole thing, and from Setsuna’s perspective, that could be the case—and, a few years before, I would have lectured her to precisely that effect with a triumphant look on my face; now, however, I saw no need to go that far.

I knew plenty well that insisting upon attacking the point with logic would bring no benefit other than my own self-satisfaction, and during my time spent with her, it had come home to me that there really was nothing left after that.



A short while after that—after taking my time looking about, taking everything in…


I sat down on a stone bench beneath a gazebo in one corner of the garden, and allowed a sound to escape my lips that wasn’t entirely in keeping with my age.

“Heehee, are you tired?”

Setsuna, standing just in front of me, had plainly heard the sound, and she tilted her head.

“Ah, yeah…”

I gave my vague reply, slightly distracted by her long hair as it hit her shoulder.

I hadn’t come here with the intention of walking around, so my legs were extremely tired—those words started to leave my mouth, but with her standing right there I started to doubt them, and they remained unvoiced.

“Want me to get you something to drink?”

Setsuna’s own high heels couldn’t have been easy to walk in, but she kept her usual smile on her face, showing no sign of fatigue. It was impressive, or remarkable, at least… We were the same age, weren’t we?

“I kind of doubt there are any vending machines here. We’re at an art museum.”
“Oh, good point.”

While I rebuked myself internally for constantly having to say the most precisely accurate thing at times like this, to the point of tactlessness, I showed no sign outwardly, moving my eyes back to her.

And Setsuna took a look around us, without displaying any negative reaction to my remark, or hurrying me from my seat, or letting the contented smile leave her face.

“Hmm. The rain’s still going strong, huh.”
“I mean, it is the rainy season.”

The moment I let that slip, I couldn’t help laughing a little at the inelegance, the bluntness, of my reply (as characteristic as it was), but I kept it moderate, and like her I took a look around.

The sound of the rain itself was almost inaudible, but as Setsuna had pointed out, it had continued to fall, and the surrounding area was shrouded in mist. Beyond that white veil, if I strained my eyes, I could see the green of the grass we’d just been looking over, and the outline of the sculpture. And, as had been the case this entire time, Setsuna and I were the only people to be seen.

That was the whole of the world we two occupied at present.

“I think we made the right choice coming here today. It’s like we reserved the whole place for ourselves.”

Maybe she had read my thoughts from my actions, or maybe it was a simple coincidence, but Setsuna’s voice expressed the same thing as it reached my ears. The only difference was that her energy was several grades higher.

There was something charming to be found about that, and the corners of my lips did loosen at the sound of her voice—but, on the other hand, there was no denying that something felt a little out of place to me, and I shifted my gaze obliquely to her face.

What was it? I felt like, on a rainy date like this, she would be more likely to be in a bad mood—or rather, at a lower energy level… That might be a better way of wording it…

“Hm? Is something wrong?”

I had continued watching Setsuna as I pondered this; now, perhaps having sensed my gaze, she looked back at me, her expression changing completely to one of confusion.

“Oh, no…”

Caught off guard by the sudden meeting of our eyes, I reflexively turned my head away for a second.

But, for some reason, I felt awkward about leaving off in such a vague manner, and I turned to look at her once more, meeting her eyes deliberately this time.

“It was just occurring to me that you seem to be enjoying our date more than usual, even with the weather being what it is.”

Enjoying it… Maybe “trying to enjoy it” would be the more accurate way of putting it.

Was it because we had wound up here unplanned, just going with the flow of the moment, in a way that we very rarely did with dates?

Normally, had such words occurred to me, little nagging thoughts (like “Oh, so normally she looks bored?”) would have butted in, and I likely wouldn’t have voiced them—or I would have hesitated, at least; but today, mysteriously, the words left my mouth precisely as they came to me.

“You think? Heehee, maybe so.”

I thought for a second that there might be some sort of deeper meaning in Setsuna’s reply, but for some reason, after briefly looking away from me, she slowly sat down next to me.

“Yes, actually… I’ve always wanted to come here.”
“Really? That’s a little surprising.”

Setsuna spoke carefully, as though she were chewing over each word, dropping her gaze to the ground.

Meanwhile, I felt something tugging at me in her bearing, as though her energy from up to this point had suddenly vanished off somewhere; but my interest in this new bit of information won out, and I voiced the words that came to my mind honestly.

“I always kind of… assumed you weren’t all that interested in paintings and sculptures and things.”

She and I had been to the typical clichéd date spots—amusement parks, aquariums, et cetera—plenty of times, but today was probably our first time visiting an art gallery. Well, maybe we had wandered into one at some point or another before, but not such that I could immediately recall. Even that aside, Setsuna’s primary association was “song,” so in my mind, the visual realm of the arts had very little connection with her.


Setsuna said nothing in reply, but threw me a single glance, otherwise continuing to smile in profile. Inferring the meaning behind her response, I, too, fell quiet.

“Oh, it looks like it’s stopped raining, Haruki-kun.”

As I watched, Setsuna’s expression suddenly changed completely, and she quickly stood up.

Following her eye line, I shifted my gaze out beyond the gazebo. The puddles all around, which had been rippling out in circles as the rain struck, had now fallen quiet.

Yes, it would seem the rain had stopped at some point.

Setsuna stepped out from beneath the roof on her own, looking up at the sky; I finally stood, my legs still heavy, and followed suit. The white mist enveloping everything around us had yet to lift, but just beyond it, I could faintly tell that the sun was beginning to shine again.

“Say, Haruki-kun.”

As I looked up at the half-clouds, half-mist flowing by, Setsuna’s voice reached my ears, and I returned my eyes to their usual level.

There, a few steps ahead of me, beneath the brightening sky, where she had stood with her back facing me, she smoothly turned round to face me directly.

Suddenly, she looked ephemeral, somehow—like she might simply vanish beyond the mist. Assailed by that anxiety. I stood gazing at her, awaiting her next word, allowing myself to be drawn in.

“I wonder whether you remember that night at the park.”

What left her lips was a sudden question, with no logical tie to anything we’d been talking about.

As I stood there, too bewildered by her words to do anything, Setsuna’s face softened just the tiniest bit, and she spoke again.

“It was when we were in college… I wanted to get your attention, so I forced myself to go to that party with the medical students, missed the last train…”

Her words began to lay bare a scene that had been buried in the sands of my memory. Now that that cue had been taken, the rest was automatic.


‘Memorize what I’m about to say to you. This afternoon, you and I took a train out of town, to the Takahara Art Gallery in Hakone…’

Of course. It was that flimsy excuse I had cobbled together on the spot in the park, trying to figure out how to see Setsuna home after she had missed her curfew.

Takeya, Io, and I had split up to pursue her in the bar district that night… But, even though we ran into each other in the end, the distance between us remained. In fact, the wounds had only opened further.

“It’s strange. I’ve completely forgotten who I saw at that party, or what I talked about, but my conversation with you afterward has stayed firmly in my mind all these years.”

After Setsuna thoughtfully strung these words together, one by one, I nodded quietly.

It was the same for me.

Setsuna’s face at that moment, her piercing voice. The emotions I bore, pricking sharply at my chest…

Most of the time they were buried deep within my heart, but now and then they showed themselves this way, bringing that night vividly back to replay before my eyes.

I didn’t especially want to remember it, but I suppose it was a scene I ought not to turn my eyes from.

After all, it wasn’t some illusion, but rather a crucial, precious piece of me as I was now—and, most likely, Setsuna as well.


“But, why?”

A question struck me, and I voiced it, just as it was.

Sure, it was a part of the past that ought not to be forgotten—for me, especially—but the fact was that it was a painful memory. I couldn’t help thinking there was no need to make a show of it like that, bringing it out beneath the light of day; that, too, was a fact.

And I knew Setsuna must feel the same way. So, why…?

I put that confusion into everything I could put it into—my face, voice, eyes, bearing—to ask her.

But I could tell that she had seen through my doubts, just as she had seen through my bewilderment a moment before, and her face and manner remained the same as she took in my words and nodded slightly.

“Because I didn’t want any ill feeling to be left between us.”
“Because everything painful that happened long ago has turned into a happy memory for me, and I wanted to make sure you knew that.”

An unintended reaction pushed its way past my lips, but with the look on her face, and the sound of her voice, I found myself unable to say anything else.

To that same extent, her voice was filled with feeling, and wholly unfaltering.

“Everything that we used to tiptoe around is far in the past now. I wanted you to be sure of that…”

She said the same thing once again, just with different wording.

Surely she couldn’t have made up her mind that cleanly regarding everything, absolutely everything—and yet, there was a strength in her words that made me want to believe them at face value.

“Do you think I’m being unreasonable, Haruki-kun?”
“I… Well, a little.”

I let my gaze roam for a second, searching for the words—then, lightly, very lightly, I nodded my head.

One could say it was a rather blunt answer.

But, being at the point where we were, discussing what we were discussing, there was no need whatsoever for reserve, nor for varnished, surface-level replies.

The time when we were such strangers to each other was long past. We were about to become part of the same family, after all.

“But, if I were you… I think I would have done the same thing.”

Another moment, then a nod, and I began to speak more clearly.

“It’s not easy to talk about something like this without finding the right opportunity, but in the end, if you don’t say it, your partner will never know, or be able to understand.”
“Right? And I felt like, the longer I put it off, the worse this unresolved feeling would become. So, I thought this might be just the right time to tell you.”
“Well, maybe…”

Too many words were flying through my brain, things I might slip in between Setsuna’s words—so I didn’t commit to anything, just smiled awkwardly.

After all, the one who had caused her to feel such things, driven her to the point that she had to do this, was none other than me.

“But, I don’t think we needed to come all the way out to Hakone on a rainy day, specifically, just for that.”

That said, neither Setsuna nor I had the intention at this point of making accusations… After looking once more at our deserted surroundings, wry smile still on my face, I returned my eyes to Setsuna and murmured my answer. Maybe pointing that out was too formulaic a move, but I couldn’t keep from saying it.

“Mm, I won’t say I didn’t think of that…”

And, as though Setsuna had anticipated just that, she took in my words, and an oddly proud smile came to her profile, together with an air of importance in her tone.

In that look, I could sense the aura that always made me realize I could not win, and my smile became wrier still. It would seem that Setsuna was destined to remain on top today.

“But this way, we could make it a commemoration, and I was sure that, no matter how much time passed, you would remember it.”

I had never really considered myself the forgetful type… But that probably wasn’t what Setsuna was trying to say; what she meant was that, this way, until the distant future—that is, even after ten or twenty years—I wouldn’t end up forgetting it completely, because we could both talk about it openly.

“And, this just now occurred to me…”

I felt a little embarrassed, or maybe awkward, about this… But, just as I was finding myself falling into a complicated state of mind, silently visualizing this distant future, I noticed Setsuna peering into my face.

“I feel like here, now, I can do this to you.”
“Huh? Oh…”

With Setsuna blushing slightly before me, I found myself saying something, then frantically rethinking my position of a few seconds before, but apparently there had been some other reason, and the moment I’d said it Setsuna walked around behind me, leaning against my back.

“So, it wasn’t ‘just for that.’”

She had laid her face against me, so that I could feel her hands, her nose, her sighs. Her voice, slightly muffled, was the happiest I had heard it sound today.

Meanwhile, I could feel my earlobes going red, and I was unable to find a single word of reply to this sudden contact, so I just listened to Setsuna’s speaking and breathing.

It may have been the rainy season, but the air here in the mountains was still chilly… and Setsuna’s body, leaning against my back, was nothing but warm.

Above all, this action was more than sufficient to remind me of that moment on the rooftop, at the airport… Yes, I was no match for Setsuna today.

“Mm… Setsuna?”
“Thank you.”
“Heehee! That’s my line.”

That day, I had stood with my eyes fixed on the lead-colored sky, without even the slightest movement; this time, my eyes were on the emerald green grass at my feet. I murmured, lowering my voice in my embarrassment, such that it would reach Setsuna alone, and a happy whisper came from behind me.

“And… I’m sorry for causing us so many detours, and demanding so much of your attention.”

Everything she had done up until we finally swore our futures to one another.

The fact that she had brought us here deliberately today.

And, the fact that she had deliberately told me, in as many words, that everything was okay now, because I made her feel like she had to…

I tried to imbue my words with the gratitude I felt, in so many different senses.

Perhaps… No, probably, when I thought back on this later, I would inevitably blush, but as had been the case with our conversation just now, if I didn’t seize this opportunity, it would be almost impossible to find the words later.

“No. It’s because you granted my wish… Even though there were painful times, I’m happy now. It’s all right, I promise.”

As though she had understood, Setsuna took in my words, and returned the feelings in words of her own.

Just as she had stayed close to me at the airport, when I stared motionlessly up at the sky, here she was now, close to me, warming me… caring for me.

There was just one difference: our feelings now were the precise opposite.

So, wanting to respond to those feelings of hers, I reached behind myself, feeling around for her hand. When I found it, I wrapped my own hand around it and held it to my chest.

“Heehee! Your heart is pounding like crazy, Haruki-kun.”

Setsuna moved her palm slightly over my chest, trying to feel my heartbeat more deeply. As I stood there, embarrassed and thoroughly at the mercy of this development, she murmured sweetly into my ear.

“That’s… probably because you’re clinging to me, Setsuna.”

I endured this sudden, arguably clichéd observation, calmed down briefly, and attempted to reply… but I couldn’t stand being the passive one forever, and I took the initiative, grasping her hand tightly.

“Setsuna… Come here.”

I pulled her by the arm, drawing her to me, and she gave herself over to me completely. The next moment, I had both arms wrapped tightly around her.

“I love you.”

Right by her ear, I buried my nose in her sweet-smelling hair, whispered how I truly felt, and embraced her.

And, precisely as I had imagined, Setsuna gazed straight up at me.

Now that we had reached this point, there was only one thing left to do.

The mist alone watched us, quietly, as our forms overlapped one another… This was our frame, wrapped in a veil of white.

I would have been too embarrassed to do this in the middle of Onjuku, and it might be a bit inconvenient, but on this day, here in this scenic place with such a scant human presence, there was no real need for reserve.

So I showed Setsuna my gratitude, as best I could, for bringing me here today.



And, after we had spent this time that was all our own…

We strolled quietly around the garden, hand in hand, letting our flushed faces cool down.

“Why don’t we head back in? We can eat dinner before we leave, but if we dawdle too much, we won’t get home until late.”

Glancing at the clock tower that had just entered my field of vision, I noticed that it was later than I’d realized, and I spoke up. Even out in the mountains, the June sky was still bright, which had apparently thrown off my sense of time a little.

Actually, even if we left immediately, it might be pretty late when we reached Suetsugu…

“Aw, really? I thought we could go ahead and miss the last train, and let Dad lecture us later.”
“I don’t think that would be a good idea, Setsuna…”

While I worried, she was starting to get playful at my side, and I frantically put a stop to it.

At times like this, had I been able to give a slightly more thoughtful answer on the spot, maybe I could have avoided being called a stick-in-the-mud or something similar. Though I got the feeling that, in that case, it wouldn’t have been what Setsuna was looking for.

“I’m kidding, silly.”

But, apparently, it was nothing but a simple trick question, and before I could say anything else, Setsuna stuck out her tongue and gave a charming smile.

“I don’t imagine you’re at the stage now where you want Dad scolding you over little things, Haruki-kun.”

Setsuna’s words weren’t entirely wrong—I mean, my mood didn’t turn negative just from setting foot in the Ogiso house so much any more, but still—but I couldn’t come up with anything real to say immediately, so I trailed off.

We had a wedding waiting in our near future, but as her boyfriend, I wasn’t sure how to feel about her saying that so directly. I also wasn’t sure how to feel about making her show that much consideration for me.

Well, but the fact that we could speak so freely with each other was proof of what a solid relationship we had built, with no cracks, nothing any other person could shake… Yes, I wanted to look at things positively.

So that I didn’t let the feelings she had put into bringing me all the way out here today go to waste.

“We should come back here. Maybe on a day with better weather, next time.”

I didn’t know how many years down the line that “next time” would be… Nor did I know whether it would just be me and Setsuna, or with new family members in tow.

But, some day—like today, in this place—I would get lost in reminiscing with the one I loved, once again. That was what I hoped.



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