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VOLUME 1: 16
Chapter 1 “Spring in full bloom”
Riding on the gentle breeze, a single cherry blossom petal fluttered into my room and landed on my left shoulder.
It must have flown from the cherry blossom tree, which was now shedding, in the neighbour’s yard. Surely.
It sure feels great.
— There’s no time for this now!
Scolding my reflection in the mirror, I looked at my odango hair, of which only one side was done up, and sighed.
Ah, it’s not odango hair.
My hairstyle is called the chignon. Did you know that?
“And I used to be able to do it all up in just five minutes when I was in elementary school…”
I grumbled to myself, but my face still lit up with a smile.
Today, I would be able to meet up with everyone from Misora First Elementary. That alone was enough to make me happy.
Yes, all the graduates from Grade 6’s Cla.s.s 1 and 2 of Misora First Elementary would be gathering today for a reunion.
Ah, but this won’t do.
There might be some people who have been reading
this thus far, but don’t know about me, right?
I’ll just do a self-introduction. Oh, those who already know all this can skip this part.
Cheese, nice to meet you. I am Harukaze Doremi!
Last month, I graduated from Misora Munic.i.p.al Middle School with wonderful results, and have been accepted into Misora Prefectural High School. I am the happiest 15-year-old bishoujo in the world!
And although I am a normal high school student now, I used to be something called a “witch apprentice”.
A “witch apprentice” is someone who undergoes training in order to become a witch.
As to how I became a “witch apprentice”, it happened when I chanced upon the MAHO-do, a store selling magical goods, during my 3rd year of elementary school. There, I exposed the owner, Makihatayama Rika-san or Majorika, as a “witch”.
Because of that, Majorika turned into a “witch frog”, a kind of mysterious creature that resembles, but isn’t, a frog or a bug.
And according to the “witch frog curse” laid out by the Queen of the witch world two reigns ago, the human who exposes the witch as such will become a “witch apprentice”. She will then need to undertake apprentice exams, starting from Level 9, and pa.s.s the highest Level 1, to break the curse. Should she be unable to become a full witch, the curse cannot be broken.
Things happened, and I obtained the right to become an apprentice to return Majorika to her original form. However, after a discussion with my best friends and fellow apprentices Fujiwara Hazuki-chan, Senoo Aiko-chan, Segawa Onpu-chan, Asuka Momoko-chan and little sis Pop-chan, we decided to not become full witches.
We had a reason for choosing not to become witches, who had full magical powers. As for that…
“Doremi—! What are you doing?! If you don’t hurry, you’ll be late for the reunion—!”
Mum’s loud voice travelled up from downstairs. In a shock, I glanced at my alarm clock. It was 10:40am.
Oh no~, the reunion begins at 11!
I faced the mirror once again, and started on my other chignon.
Another smile appeared on my face.
I wish to see everyone soon.
There were many whom I had not seen since the graduation ceremony. There were some who went to different middle schools, and some who moved out of Misora City totally.
By the way, my best friend Hazuki-chan, who had been accepted into Karen Girls’ Academy, and I went to different middle schools. However, we would meet up every Sat.u.r.day at each other’s homes or at the library,
so I see her a lot.
Ai-chan had returned to Osaka, and last year, she went on a school excursion trip with her middle school to s.h.i.+koku. Even though her grandpa was ill at that time, she still came to s.h.i.+n-Osaka Station, so we managed to meet then.
After that, Ai-chan’s family started to take care of their grandpa, and I think he had already gone on a journey to heaven since.
It was a moment of true fate, and the whole family managed to stay together through Ai-chan’s efforts, but he died in less than two years. I really don’t understand life.
However, Ai-chan commented that:
“He’s been really calm, and looks so well recently”
Therefore, her mum looked after him till the very end, fulfilling her filial duty, and so they didn’t feel too depressed by his death.
Of course, I had not seen Momo-chan, who had gone to New York, for nearly 3 years. However, we send each other mails once every other day.
It’s too bad that she won’t come today.
As for Segawa Onpu-chan… We had been keeping in contact up till half a year ago, but when the new year began, we somehow lost contact. The last time we met up in person was about a year ago too.
For today’s reunion, Hazuki-chan, who handles the affairs for Cla.s.s 2, told me that Onpu-chan had sent in a quick reply stating her absence.
What was happening with Onpu-chan? I’m so worried.
Speaking of that, Ai-chan had not confirmed her attendance for today too. When we spoke on the phone recently, she said that:
“Of course I’ll be there!”
Well, it’s Ai-chan. I think she probably just forgot to confirm.
Lastly, Hana-chan… I hadn’t seen her since Majorika closed MAHO-do and returned to the witch world with Lala and Dodo and the other fairies.
When we were in middle school, Hazuki-chan and I would talk about Hana-chan every time we met,
but we always ended up crying, so it had become a taboo topic between us now.
Of course, the postcard about the reunion wouldn’t have reached the witch world, so Hana-chan’s absence today was confirmed.
Hana-chan, how are you?
I’m sure she is working hard to become the next Queen of the witch world, under the guardians.h.i.+p of Majorika…
Just then, Mum’s voice rang out again.
“Doremi—! I’m not bothering with you if you are late—!”
“Yes, yes, I’m coming!”
Slinging my pink bag, which matched with Hazuki-chan’s, over my shoulder, I burst out of my room at top speed.
As I was descending the stairs, I felt a pin holding my chignon together start to loosen,
Sadly, I missed a step, and
I tripped and fell.
“Did you trip and fall again~? You never change even after entering high school, big sis”
Standing over my clumsy self, Pop, who had emerged from the living room together with Mum and Dad, commented with a sly face.
“What is that way of speech! Is that how you speak to your big sis who’s a high school student?!”
I glared at Pop as she walked over,
“I always speak like this. You got into high school only because Hazuki-chan helped you with your studies, and only with barely pa.s.sable results!”
Gasp! And I just said that I was accepted with wonderful results… Boo-hoo-hoo.
Sorry, I lied.
As Pop had said, Hazuki-chan, who did not need to take exams, helped me out with my studies from autumn last year all the way to the last day before exams.
“Seems like you’re not hurt. Even as a high school student, Doremi is still Doremi. Hahahahaha”
Dad laughed as he helped me up.
“Oh, it’s been a long time since you did odango hair”
That’s my Mum. She always notices every change in her daughter.
“I spent thirty minutes working on these, but now they’re all messy…”
“So that’s why you’re late. It’s hard to do this style with shorter hair, right? Leave it to Mum”
Swish swish swis.h.!.+
A few quick seconds later, Mum had redone my chignons.
“Oh, that’s cute. Dad really likes this odango head”
“They’re called chignons…”
As I puffed out my cheeks, Pop came in with another hateful comment.
“You cut your hair short when
the guy you liked in 8th Grade rejected you.
Why do you want to tie your hair up in chignons again?”
Double gasp! To rub salt onto these wounds in my heart which I wished to forget!
Just as I was about to deny it, Mum said:
“Doremi, you’re late, late!”
“Wahh, this won’t do!”
As I put on my shoes in a panic, Dad poked his head out and asked,
“Wait a moment! I’ve never heard about you liking anyone! Doremi, who was that guy?!”
“It’s alright, let her be! Don’t ask about the past anymore. By the way, when I was cleaning your room this morning, I found a new fis.h.i.+ng rod that I’ve never seen before…”
“Let’s talk about that”
Thanks to Mum, who had grabbed Dad’s ear and pulled him back into the living room, my old wounds received no more hurt.
“That Pop is such a brat”
I said to myself as I ran along the road to Misora First Elementary, where the reunion was to take place.
Even though our family’s finances are in dire straits now, Pop is thinking of enrolling in, of all places, Karen Girls’ Academy.
Karen Girls’ Academy is a school integrating middle, high and university level education. The music faculty, which Hazuki-chan is enrolled in, is special for its teachers and professors, who are all famous musicians. Many graduates from the school have become professional composers and performers too. Plus, it’s a private school, so tuition fees are expensive.
Due to the dying down of the mountain stream fis.h.i.+ng fad, Dad, who works as a writer for fly fis.h.i.+ng, had seen a decrease in his workload. Recently, he had started writing about sea fis.h.i.+ng. As for Mum, she is teaching piano to preschool kids from home in order to balance the finances, but…
Because of that, Dad had been grumbling about being unable to freely afford a new fis.h.i.+ng rod for sea fis.h.i.+ng.
But seems like he bought it in the end…
Mum must be really angry now.
The only hope is that I’m attending a public school, so tuition fees are cheap and thus can help the family save up.
However, Pop has a talent with the piano, so I hope that she will always continue on with it.
Well, that’s if she gets into Karen Girls’ Academy in the first place.
And like me, since we are both made up of the same parents’ DNA, she is having difficulties with her entrance exams too.
When she was in 5th Grade, Seki-sensei took over her lessons, so both Mum and Pop got rea.s.sured by that. However, the exams are still up to the individual’s ability.
Ah, isn’t Seki-sensei an alumnus of Karen Girls’ Academy herself?
Alright, I will consult Seki-sensei during the reunion, and we’ll try to somehow motivate Pop to get into Karen Girls’ Academy.
The cherry blossom trees in the schoolyard of Misora First Elementary, which is located on a sunny patch of high ground, were all shedding too.
It is only the beginning of April, so it feels a little sad.
Oh well, we did have a warm winter this year, so the flowers bloomed earlier than usual. It can’t be helped.
— But now’s not the time to stand around idly admiring the scenery.
The hands of the clock tower above the school’s main gate hovered near 11am.
Oh no, I’m late!
Gasping for breath, I rushed into the old cla.s.sroom for Grade 6 Cla.s.s 1.
The sound of everyone’s shout echoed.
“Wh-wh-what was that~?!”
With a pitiful expression, I scratched my head and asked, to which Tamaki Reika replied sarcastically,
“Harukaze-san, you’ve not changed even one bit, even as a high school student”
Tamaki~! You are the one who hasn’t changed!
Just as I was about to retort, I remembered that I was the one at fault this time.
“Well, nice to see you too”
That’s a response befitting an adult.
“Now that Harukaze is here, shall we finally begin?”
Just as all of us started moving to our old seats,
Yokokawa n.o.buko-chan waved her arm.
“What is it, Yokokawa?”
“Since we’re not having lessons now, shall we arrange the desks to form a U-shape? I think that’ll be better, as we can see each other’s faces easily”
“Nice idea, n.o.buko-chan! Sensei, let’s do just that!”
I immediately agreed with the idea, and the other’s voices soon joined in. Everyone then picked up their desks and chairs and s.h.i.+fted to surround Seki-sensei.
For some reason, n.o.buko-chan moved in next to me.
Since Momo-chan and Hana-chan were absent, I was initially worried that I would have had no one to talk to. Now, I should have been relieved, but I felt a little strange at the same time.
What was so strange?
That’s right! It’s Miho-chan.
Maruyama Miho-chan, who was always by n.o.buko-chan’s side.
Through the s.h.i.+fting of cla.s.ses in Grade 5, the two of them came together. n.o.buko-chan, who loved to use her imagination and aspired to become a novelist, and Miho-chan, who always lost herself in her dreams of becoming a manga artist, became a combi that pumped out lots of interesting manga, which were sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and sometimes surprising, all of which we used to enjoy.
Even when they entered middle school, they remained best friends, submitting their works to various shojo manga magazines. Even though they might not have been selected for publication, their manga were often given honourable mentions.
I thought that they would surely become pros together someday, but what’s happening now?…
Curious, I took a peek at Miho-chan, who was sitting in a spot furthest away from us.
Miho-chan had her eyes cast down, but then she looked up for a moment at us, as if curious about n.o.buko-chan.
However, once she noticed my gaze, she cast her eyes downwards again.
Just what had happened between her and n.o.buko-chan?
With my usual nosiness, I lifted my head to ask n.o.buko-chan about it.
Suddenly, the door at the back of the cla.s.sroom was thrown open with force, and a nostalgic face leapt into view.
“Sorry that I’m late! How has everyone been?”
It was my best friend, Ai-chan.
“Ai-chan, long time no see!”
Before I could rush over, n.o.buko-chan was already there hugging Ai-chan.
“n.o.bu-chan, you look well!”
Pulling away from n.o.bu-chan’s nuzzling, Ai-chan came over to me,
“Doremi-chan, congrats for getting into high school!”
“Thank you! Yay!”
Smiling, we high-fived each other.
“I was so worried. You didn’t send in a reply stating your attendance today, and I couldn’t contact you either”
“Sorry sorry. There was just too much stuff and confusion. But I did tell you during our call that I’ll definitely come”
“That’s true, but… Oh well”
Just then, we heard Seki-sensei clearing her throat.
In a panic, Ai-chan looked over to Seki-sensei,
“Ah, Seki-sensei. Sorry for being late”
With a wry smile, Seki-sensei replied,
“That’s not the point. Senoo, which graduating cla.s.s were you in?”
“Grade 6 Cla.s.s 2…”
At that moment, Tamaki stood up and said,
“Senoo-san, this is Grade 6 Cla.s.s 1!”
Ai-chan shouted, her mouth opening so wide that I wondered if her jaw would unhinge.
In a moment, the cla.s.sroom was engulfed in roaring laughter.
However, she is still our Ai-chan, an Osaka native.
“You didn’t call? You didn’t call? Sorry for my rudeness once again!”
She quickly followed up with an old joke from Crazy Cats. However, Seki-sensei was the only one who got it. The rest of us just stared blankly.
“Aha, ahahaha. What’s this, don’t you know this legendary Crazy Cats joke?”
“Senoo, that’s just too old”
With Seki-sensei’s retort, Ai-chan laughed in embarra.s.sment.
With that, she dashed out of the cla.s.sroom.
Within moments, loud laughter could be heard coming from the cla.s.sroom next door. Ai-chan was probably relating the incident of her mixing up the cla.s.srooms.
Ai-chan is really great. She has the power to change everyone’s mood in just a moment.
I heard from Hazuki-chan later on that Cla.s.s 2′s reunion was not going so well due to the gloomy topic of Onpu-chan’s absence, but thanks to Ai-chan, the atmosphere lightened up in an instant.
I’ll talk more about Ai-chan later. Our cla.s.s’ reunion was getting really exciting too.
First, Seki-sensei asked after us one by one, inquiring about our memories of middle school and our current situation.
“So, who shall we start with first?”
“Let’s go by register number”
Rinno Masato-kun, our cla.s.s committee member, replied immediately.
“Hmm, register number 1 is…?”
Surveying the group of us, Seki-sensei asked.
Itou Kouji-kun, who is register number 2, replied.
“I’ve been in constant e-mail contact with Momo-chan all this while. Her dad’s company is undertaking a huge project in China now, so she will be returning to j.a.pan this autumn”
Upon hearing my report, the boys cheered. Momo-chan may be an airhead, but she is really earnest, so she is popular amongst the guys.
With that, we started talking about our current situations, starting with register number 2 Itou-kun.
Following the sequence, we told Seki-sensei about memories from middle school which she didn’t know about, as well as the high school we’re enrolled in, and things which we’ve been obsessed with lately.
Of all the accounts, Kotake’s was the one which everyone was interested in most.
During elementary school times, he was a jokester who was even shorter than me, but after entering middle school, he started to grow taller, and he is already 180cm now.
As a bonus, he became the captain and ace striker of the soccer team in middle school, and was really popular and stuff with the junior girls…
And of all things, he actually rejected me!
I’ll elaborate on that later, but ever since I entered the cla.s.sroom today, he didn’t even look at me once.
Sorry, I got caught up in my personal feelings.
Unlike me, Seki-sensei was all smiles as she listened to the growing up stories of all her students.
However, there was one account that caused Seki-sensei’s expression to cloud over.
Miho-chan, whom I was curious about too, only talked about being accepted into a private high school that hosts a manga research department. Aside from that-
“Nothing interesting happened in middle school”
She said, before abruptly ending her account.
But she and n.o.buko-chan had been creating manga together through middle school…
Ah, talking about that, n.o.buko-chan, like me, enrolled in Misora High School.
Why isn’t she in the same school as Miho-chan?
I’ll try to ask her later.
“Doremi-chan, how was Cla.s.s 1’s reunion?”
Ai-chan asked as we entered the karaoke lounge’s largest room, where Cla.s.ses 1 and 2 were having a combined after-party.
“So so, I guess”
I replied vaguely.
“Harukaze-san, what are you saying! We had such fun talking about our elementary school graduation ceremony!”
s.h.i.+makura Kaori-chan, who was nearby taking photos of everyone, countered, pus.h.i.+ng up her gla.s.ses as she spoke.
“That was when Doremi-chan locked herself up in MAHO-do, wasn’t it?”
Hazuki-chan added, the lens of her gla.s.ses sparkling in the light.
“That’s right, it was so exciting! I’ll never ever forget it, that unique graduation ceremony,” Ai-chan said.
“Kaori-chan, don’t bring up unnecessary things~! Everyone kept on teasing me about it just now”
The latter half of Cla.s.s 1’s reunion was truly fun, with all the talk about our graduation ceremony, but it was really embarra.s.sing for me.
Just then, we heard the singing voices of Seki-sensei and Nis.h.i.+zawa-sensei, the teacher in-charge of Cla.s.s 2.
Nis.h.i.+zawa-sensei got married a year earlier than Seki-sensei, and was now on maternity leave. She came today with her baby in tow.
The song the happy duo was singing was the duet “Oyome Samba”. At the beginning, Nis.h.i.+zawa-sensei had to force Seki-sensei to sing, but she slowly got into it, and the two ended up dancing and singing together, before being showered with applause.
Nis.h.i.+zawa-sensei then took over the mike for a one-woman show, until the baby’s crying forced her to reluctantly let go of the mike. After that, everyone took turns to sing.
Sagawa Yuuji-kun, Oota Yutaka-kun and Satou Jun-kun’s SOS Trio and Sugiyama Toyokazu-kun and Ogura Kenji-kun’s Toyoken Combi also got into a lame joke compet.i.tion. It was all so fun, but Hazuki-chan, Ai-chan and I stayed in a corner of the room, indulging in a girls’ chat.
Ai-chan got the ball rolling.
“Doremi-chan, how are you and Kotake these days?”
I was hesitant to answer at first, but knowing that Ai-chan would grill me about it out of worry, I opened my heavy mouth.
“Nothing is happening. There’s been no news since then…”
“Is that so… Anyway, why did it take you so long to write him a love letter?”
“Well, that’s my fault…”
Hazuki-chan admitted with a remorseful voice.
“It’s not Hazuki-chan’s fault”
I immediately countered.
The story went like this. In the autumn of our 8th Grade, Hazuki-chan was getting along really well with Yada Masaru-kun, and I started to grumble about it to her.
“You’re lucky… Why can’t I find a wonderful boyfriend too? Is it because I don’t have enough girl power?”
“That’s not true. There is a boy who sees all of Doremi-chan’s good points, and whom I think likes Doremi-chan”
“Really?! Who, who, who?!”
“You really don’t know?”
“Not at all”
“You are really so oblivious…”
Impatient, Hazuki-chan started to talk about the time when I boycotted the graduation ceremony and locked myself up at MAHO-do.
“Everyone was trying to coax Doremi-chan out. Kotake-kun was there too, doing his best to coax you out. Don’t you remember?”
“You’re right. Kotake… He told me that everyone in cla.s.s really loves me”
“What’s important came before that. At first, Kotake-kun started the sentence with “I”, then became really embarra.s.sed, so he changed it to “Everyone here really loves you”“
“S-so, Kotake likes me?”
“Yes, he always has. Everyone in cla.s.s knew about it”
“Really?… Talking about that, there were times when Kotake’s behaviour caught my attention”
“It was during the school excursion trip, right?”
Hazuki-chan inquired without delay.
“Y-yes… When I slipped and fell on the banana peel Kotake discarded, on the slope back from Kiyomizu Temple”
“There was a legend saying that you would die 3 years later if you slipped on that slope”
“Yes yes. I was really scared then, so Kotake fell down on purpose too”
“He was trying to cheer up Doremi-chan, who was really frightened then”
“I see… Oh, I was really depressed because of how clumsy I was, and when I went to talk to Seki-sensei, that Kotake quietly snuck in with me too, even though we were in different groups”
“Also, when we went for the camp, Kotake-kun was the one who piggybacked Doremi-chan when you sprained your ankle”
“That happened too… So that Kotake really likes me…”
Since then, I started to take note of Kotake, and my eyes naturally started to follow him around.
Kotake, who used to be just a jokester in elementary school who always teased me, started to look like a different person.
Before I knew it, he had grown taller than me and devoted himself to soccer, and he became a cooler person. Furthermore, when I looked around him, I realized that the junior girls were also following him with adoring eyes.
I started to feel uneasy, and I spent the entire night that day apologizing for my oblivious self in a letter, as well as asking him to become my boyfriend. The next day, I called Kotake out to the coast and pa.s.sed him the letter.
Since then, I’ve waited and waited, but no reply came. Soon after that, Kotake became the captain of the soccer team and got really busy. In Grade 9, he switched cla.s.ses, and we have been on that sour note ever since then.
After listening to my story, Ai-chan commented:
“So that’s what happened… Isn’t it weird, to not have replied you for more than a year and a half?”
She looked at me pitifully.
I sighed, like a heroine in a tragic drama, and replied:
“I was totally rejected”
However, Hazuki-chan, who was watching Kotake belt out “Tsubasa wo kudasai”, the cheer song for j.a.pan’s soccer team, murmured:
“I don’t think so…”
“Why not! It’s been a year and a half, right?”
Ai-chan immediately asked.
“Doremi-chan may think that she has been totally rejected, but I think that Kotake-kun is just shy about love, much like Doremi-chan. Maybe he was just shocked?”
“Hmm? …Ahh, that may be true,” Ai-chan mused.
“He has probably been thinking of giving a reply all this while, but ended up taking a longer time than usual…?” Hazuki-chan explained.
“If that’s the case, I’ll go ask him about it!”
Ai-chan started to move towards Kotake, but I grabbed her arm in a panic.
“W-wait a minute! Enough about me, what about Ai-chan?”
“What about me?”
“Oh, Anrimaa? I’ve dumped him”
“You dumped him?!”
Hazuki-chan and I shouted in unison.
“When we were in 7th Grade, we were getting along great, being a wonderful comedy duo and all. But Anrimaa, who was supposed to play the idiot, kept making jokes on me”
Ai-chan made a fist with her hand, showing her anger.
“He was spreading rumours about how “we would get married in the future!”. Of course I got angry and dumped him!”
“F-f-for that reason alone?…”
Hazuki-chan murmured, with a stunned look on her face.
“So, is Ai-chan attached to anyone at the moment?” I asked.
“I’m obsessed with this right now, so love is being postponed”
Ai-chan waved her arms to mimic a running action.
That’s right, Ai-chan joined the track team in middle school, and competed in Osaka Prefecture, winning the 100m race. She also won third place in the National Track Meet.
Ai-chan has always been great at all sports, but it seems like she has finally found a sport which she really likes.
“So you will continue with track even in high school?”
“Of course! I’ve already handed in my enrollment form to the teacher in-charge at Misora High School just now”
“Eh…? W-what did you just say?!”
“I said, I’ve handed in my enrollment form”
“The other part!”
Throughout this exchange, Hazuki-chan was giggling,
“Ai-chan, haven’t you told Doremi-chan yet?”
“That’s right! Doremi-chan, I’m coming back to Misora City!”
My loud voice caused everyone in the karaoke room to look over at me.
Tamaki, whose song I interrupted, glared and said,
“Don’t waste my beautiful voice!”
I bowed my head to Tamaki, grabbed Ai-chan and Hazuki-chan, and pulled them out of the karaoke room into the lobby.
“Ai-chan, are you really returning to Misora City?!”
I embraced Ai-chan.
“And you will be joining Doremi-chan at Misora High School too, I’m so envious”
Hazuki-chan commented in an envious voice.
“But, what’s happened? You’ve never talked about this during our phone conversations before”
I asked as we all sat down on a sofa.
“We decided on that really quickly”
Ai-chan then continued to tell us the whole story.
Coincidentally, the elderly care facility that Ai-chan’s mum was working at would be opening a new branch in a town near Misora City in the middle of this month. Ai-chan’s mum has been a.s.signed to be the one in-charge at the new place.
Of course, Ai-chan’s dad, who used to work in the taxi company owned by Tamaki’s papa, has decided to take back his old job. The whole family would be s.h.i.+fting back to Misora City.
Thanks to that, I would be able to enjoy fun times in high school with my best friend Ai-chan. I couldn’t be happier.
As I sat smiling, Ai-chan asked Hazuki-chan about her relations.h.i.+p with Yada-kun.
Hazuki-chan let out a huge sigh.
“Aren’t you two successfully attached?”
“Successfully successful. Totally successful”
I answered impatiently, having always been painfully aware of their loving relations.h.i.+p.
“We are fine, but there are troubles and dissatisfactions which Doremi-chan is unaware of”
Hazuki-chan countered, a frown on her face.
Hazuki’s school, Karen Girls’ Academy, was really strict on boy-girl relations.h.i.+ps, and so forbade them from going out together alone.
And even though Yada-kun often visits Hazuki-chan at her home, and Hazuki-chan sometimes visits him at his house, Hazuki-chan’s mama or housekeeper always tagged along.
“Hazuki-chan is being overprotected, as usual,” Ai-chan commented.
“But you two get along so well together, isn’t that all that matters?” I asked.
“It’s not all that matters. I’d like us to go out on a date together alone sometime!”
Hazuki-chan raised her voice.
Ai-chan immediately let out a teasing smile,
“What would you like to do on a date alone? Don’t tell me, you want to do that? Or that?”
“Th-that?… Or that?!”
Hazuki-chan’s face was scarlet, as if burnt.
“Why are you all red! Won’t you like to watch a movie together, or go to the amus.e.m.e.nt park?”
I commented, feigning ignorance and playing along. Ai-chan also added,
“That’s what I meant. Hazuki-chan, were you thinking of something else?”
“Oh, no. Well, I…”
Watching Hazuki-chan panic, Ai-chan and I burst out laughing, holding our sides.
“Doremi-chan, Ai-chan, stop it!”
Hazuki-chan joined in the laughter too, despite her anger.
“It feels like we’ve returned to our elementary school days”
I said, and the other two smiled and nodded.
In the end, after the after-party, all of us took a photo together and decided on our next reunion, which was to take place 5 years later when we were 20 years old. All of us then went our separate ways.
Hazuki-chan, Ai-chan and I, who had not chatted enough, decided to continue on to my place.
Walking on the road beside the river, we continued our conversation.
The evening sun reflected on the river, dyeing our faces crimson.
From the karaoke lounge until this point, we had been on the topic of Segawa Onpu-chan, whom none of us could contact.
Ai-chan, like Hazuki-chan and myself, had been talking and texting Onpu-chan on the mobile as usual up to half a year ago, but when the new year arrived, she had cut off all contact.
“I thought that I could find out about what happened once I met with you girls…”
“We thought so too,” I replied.
“If we could use magic now, we could find out the reason right away”
Hazuki-chan said with a sigh.
“We’ve stopped being witches, so that can’t be helped”
I told her with a serious face, causing Hazuki-chan to panic and wave her right hand,
“A joke. It was a joke”
“Well, you were at least half-serious about it”, Ai-chan said.
Hazuki-chan stared at Ai-chan, stunned.
“Haha. I was actually thinking the same thing,” Ai-chan admitted.
“What, Ai-chan too?” I asked.
“ “Ai-chan too”? So Doremi-chan thought so too?”
Hazuki-chan asked, pus.h.i.+ng her gla.s.ses up her nose.
I felt the same way too. Magic can be really useful.
It was when we had crossed the bridge and were climbing up the gently-sloping path. Suddenly, I felt a cold wind, and three dandelion seeds floated past before our eyes.
I didn’t know the reason, but I felt some vague premonition.
I murmured, as my eyes chased after the three seeds.
The seeds slowly floated down the slope’s opposite side.
“Eh?! It can’t be?!”
I shouted out unconsciously.
“Doremi-chan, what’s the matter?”
I heard Hazuki-chan call out behind me.
“The two of you, look at that!”
Following my pointing finger, the two of them looked over, and there it was. The very same MAHO-do, where I first met Majorika seven years ago.
“Ahhhh—!! It can’t be—!!”
This time, Ai-chan was the one shouting.
True, that was the exact spot where the MAHO-do once stood, but it was demolished when Majorika and the others returned to the witch world. It should be a vacant lot.
“Are we dreaming?”
So saying, Ai-chan pinched her cheek.
“Ouch! It’s not a dream!”
“What is happening?!”
“No use talking! Let’s go see!”
Caught in the moment, we dashed across a nearby bridge, down the slope, and to the front of MAHO-do.
The shop’s sign read “Makihatayama Rika’s Maho-do”.
“This sign and building, it’s from seven years ago, right?”
I asked, to which Hazuki-chan and Ai-chan nodded mutely.
It happened then.
The entrance to MAHO-do opened noisily, and a nostalgic figure came forward.
It was Majorika herself.
1: Odango hair refers to a specific type of hairstyle where the hair is tied into b.a.l.l.s resembling round dumplings. Another famous character with this hairstyle is Tsukino Usagi from Sailor Moon.
3: s.h.i.+koku is the smallest and least populous of the four main islands of j.a.pan, located south of Honshu and east of the island of Kyushu.