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Part 1

The midday sky had been somewhat clouded last time she was on the roof; not necessarily dull, but there was plenty of shade in the passing clouds that afforded Fuyumi the chance to be less guarded. She quickly learned her lesson when, later that evening, her forearms burned at the softest breeze passing by.

 

“Papa warned me,” she said, reprimanding herself. “But I really thought I’d put on enough……”

 

The afternoon sky this time held no such mercy, the sun being free to punish her as it saw fit. Had she not carried her parasol, on top of applying her normal amount of sunscreen, she wouldn’t be able to enjoy the scenery around her, a sight only the school’s roof was able to gift.

 

From the middle of the rooftop, she could see the vast school grounds— the track, baseball field, tennis courts, even the view of the city a little ways off in the distance. She wanted to move closer to the edge, but given her………shorter-than-average height, a strong enough breeze could cause her to stumble.

 

It was a rare moment she could clear her mind from her daily troubles, but the creaking sound of a door opening behind her shifted her thoughts back to the situation at hand.

 

She sighed.

 

“Students are forbidden from entering the rooftop, but I’ve already told you I’ll make an exception.”

 

A bespeckled girl with thick eyebrows and wavy red hair crawled away from the door and approached the council president; her dawdling steps and nervous expression, however, told Fuyumi she needed further reassurance.

 

“Is this your first time on top on any sort of rooftop?”

 

She nodded.

 

“I see. Apologies for making you come out here, especially so soon after class; it just helps clear my mind.”

 

The girl gave a nod of understanding, and her expression seemed to soften a bit, she figured it was time to talk to her about the request she’d asked of her.

 

“Were you able to find her?”

 

Hana’s eyes widened a bit as she hurriedly nodded her head, searching her bag for a familiar black object and handing it to the girl. Switching the parasol to her right hand, she took the camera with her left and began scrolling through the various images.

 

“Ohhh I see I see; you’re quite the hard one to find Ms. Absentee. To think you’d be cutting class so close to the school.”

 

Turning on her heel, Fuyumi looked to the west of the school grounds; there, technically within school property, was a steep, verdant hill with concrete steps leading to a nearby temple. In the pictures, Fuyumi could see an athletic, tan looking girl with relatively short hair tossing paper planes from the top of those steps.

 

As she turned back to return the camera, Fuyumi was met with a different piece of technology, bold text filling its luminous screen.

 

「Who..exactly is she..?」

 

Fuyumi sighed, though it sounded more from frustration at dealing with the mystery girl rather than the question.

 

“I guess I didn’t give you much context when I asked if you could keep an eye out for students with her description. That girl is from class one-four; the teacher, Miss Wakako, told me there’s a student who hasn’t been present since the year started.”

 

Hana’s eyes went wide, though oddly it was from mentioning the specific class rather than the mention of her consistent absence.

 

“Ordinarily she’d have her scholarship rescinded and expulsion would follow soon after, but her situation is so unique that I’ve had to personally look into it.

 

「Unique…?」

 

Fuyumi waved aside the written question. “Trust me, it’s not worth getting into, but I do appreciate the help. I’m technically the only member of the student council right now, so I really appreciate the assistance.”

 

「Oh……I’m sorry to hear…can I do anything else..?」

 

When she read that, Fuyumi’s face became sympathetic.

 

“I don’t want to burden you with problems that aren’t yours, but I appreciate the offer.”

 

Hana quickly pulled back her phone, typing at speeds so incredible Fuyumi read it only a moment later.

 

「It’s no burden at all!」

 

She shook her head. “Hana, thank you, but it’s—”

 

「No burden at all!」 she typed, aggressively shoving the phone in her face.

 

“I just mean that—”

 

「NO BURDEN!」

 

“I—”

 

「I SAID NO BURDEN!!」

 

“Okay okay, I get it I get it, it’s no burden,” she said, holding up her hands and backing up several paces. “But is there a reason you’re so insistent on helping?”

 

Hana opened her mouth to speak, but a stub of noise was the only thing to escape. Looking to her toes, she fidgeted her phone before methodically typing out a response.

 

「It’s because……if it’s okay, I would like your help with something as well…」

 

After reading those last words, Fuyumi *hmmmph!* stomped her foot in what seemed like an exaggerated gesture. “Hana, if you want my help with something then just say so! You don’t have to help me to ask for a favor!”

 

「I’m……sorry. I thought……that’s what people do…」

 

“It is,” she sighed, “but to tell you the truth I’m sick of it. I grew up seeing that sort of thing in my father’s business, it’s hard enough finding genuine altruism nowadays.”

 

The girl was shaking from the reprimand, but Fuyumi stomped her foot once more ducked down to meet the girl’s eyes.

 

“That’s why I want you to ask me this favor! Because that’s what it means to help people, as both president and a friend!!”

 

「A……a friend?」

 

A more gentle sigh escaped her lips. The chagrin Fuyumi had moments ago was soon replaced with an uncertain, but genuine, smile.

 

“I get the feeling neither of us is very experienced in this sort of thing, but……yes. Like a friend; no quid pro quo needed.”

 

With an equally awkward smile, Hana began typing.

 

「Then, could you please spare some advice?」

 

“The favor you wanted is advice?” she blinked in confusion. “Umm, sure, I’d be happy to help with what I ca—aahhh—are you okay?!”

 

She was so busy reading in confusion that she didn’t notice Hana’s burning face until it was as red as her hair.

 

「Sorry, you’re right, I’m not good at this!」

 

“It’s fine, no need to push yourself…”

 

「No, it’s something I really need to know, but it’s embarrassing so please don’t laugh!」

 

“No, of course not, I won’t laugh.”

 

She could see the difficulty Hana was having in typing due to her fingers’ refusal to stop trembling. Eventually, she finished, and hesitantly turned the screen while covering her face with her free hand.

 

「How……would you express your feelings of admiration for someone?」

 

“Feelings of……like, through a letter?”

 

「I……think so………」

 

“You know, I recently found a love letter on my desk in the council room; that wasn’t you was it?”

 

「NO!!」

 

“I know I know, just kidding.” she laughed. Afterwards she put a finger to her cheek and looked at the sky from below her parasol. “I think it depends. Writing one for a family member is easier than writing one to a total stranger after all.”

 

She looked back down as she asked. “Who’s it for?”

 

「Someone…in my class I really admire. I think he’s a little sad so I wanted to write something to him………to let him know…my feelings……and to let him know he’s not alone…」

 

“Ohhhh,” Fuyumi said, slyly crouching and putting a hand to her lips. “This sounds more like a confession you know.”

 

Surprisingly, the redhead didn’t write a message; she instead furiously waved her arms back and forth while violently denying the claim by shaking her head.

 

“Calm down,” she said, lowering the girl’s arms. “I’m honored you asked me something that means so much to you, I’d be happy to help.”

 

The girl’s intensity immediately quelled, replaced now with a look of absolute relief, tinted with a little joy.

 

As Fuyumi motioned for them to return, the tap on her shoulder caused her to look back.

 

「What about the other student you needed help with?」

 

“Oh,” Fuyumi said, her expression dampening. “There are……only rumors about what the girl is doing, and the exact student isn’t known, but even so…”

 

Hana’s expression was painted in worry before Fuyumi reassured her.

 

“But hey, that’s not something to worry about right now! We need to buy you a template card to create your letter!”

 

With those words, Fuyumi closed her parasol and entered the school once more.

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About the author

OceansInTheSky

Bio: Author of The Promise of Yuuko Asahino and The Aspects, but the former is my passion.
Site where updates first happen: https://ncode.syosetu.com/n3526fy/

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