I Know That After School, The Saint More Than Just Noble - Chapter 8
The way home was as expected — or perhaps a little more crowded than expected — and everyone headed for the station with their bodies drained of energy.
After they managed to arrive at the station closest to the festival, they had to board the train, which was packed full of people.
Tsubaki got off the train a little earlier and now the number of passengers gradually decreased as time went by.
When they arrived at the station nearest the school, Yamato and Seira were left alone with their other classmates, including Eita and Mei.
“Haa, that was hell…”
Yamato, who had shown his manliness in protecting the girls on the crowded train, was completely exhausted from the strain of the train.
“It was so hot. I thought the air conditioning wasn’t working.”
“You seem to be all right though.”
“Yes. I mean, I still feel like I’m missing out.”
Seira, walking next to Yamato, turned towards him with her purse in her hand, expressing her discontent.
“Are you serious about that…? Also, don’t spin the purse around, it might hit someone.”
“Of course. Because I arrived late in the first place.”
Yamato was tempted to flick Seira on her forehead, but he was worried about accidentally scratching her cute forehead, so he stopped himself from doing so.
“Then, how about some hand-held fireworks?”
“Ah, that’s a good idea. Let’s do it.”
After having just seen a magnificent fireworks show, Yamato meant it as a joke, but Seira seemed to take it seriously and her eyes were sparkling.
“For real~. Look, there’s a convenience store over there. Let’s go.”
He had no choice but to stop by the convenience store, and Seira tried to buy three sets of fireworks.
“Wait, you should just buy one. Well, if you want to invite other people, that’s a different story.”
“Then I’ll just get one set.”
“Good, I’ll get them for you.”
“We’ll split it.”
Yamato bought a bottle of soda alongside the fireworks, and left the store.
It was late and there were not a lot of people in the nearby park.
After filling the cup that came with the fireworks with water, Yamato used the matches he had bought to light Seira’s hand-held fireworks first.
With a start, the colored fire began to radiate with sparks.
“Ha-ha-ha, so pretty!”
Seira laughed innocently as the light illuminated her.
Yamato again admired the combination of Seira in her yukata and the fireworks.
“Here, I’ll share with you, Yamato.”
Seira then pointed her own firework at Yamato’s and ignited it.
“Share? I was the one who lit the fire.”
“Right, it’s pretty.”
This experience wasn’t so bad after all. It was smaller than a fireworks show, but it was still a very memorable moment because the fireworks were right in front of them. (EDN: Think roman candles)
“I’m going to dual wield them. Yamato, help.”
Seira was as excited as an elementary school student, holding the fireworks in both hands and asking him to light them.
Yamato did as he was told and lit the fireworks, and Seira started swinging it around like the purse she had swung earlier.
“Watch out! …Good grief, that’s not something a high school student should do.”
“It isn’t? It’s fun, though.”
“Well, it does look fun…”
“Then, you go four.”
“What do you mean then?”
In the end, Yamato held four fireworks, which Seira ignited.
Then, the fireworks that Yamato had two in each hand all lit up at once, and his vision was instantly illuminated by colorful light.
“Oh, oooh, oh~”
Perhaps due to the smell of the smoke and gunpowder in the air, Yamato wobbled and swung the fireworks around with a strange sense of elation.
Seeing this, Seira was laughing loudly.
From the outside, it must have been a chaotic scene. It would not be surprising if they were reported.
When it ended, they both shut their mouths at the same time.
“You know, I’m feeling a little empty all at once.”
“All right, let’s do the launching one.”
“Wouldn’t that bother the neighbors?”
“Just one time would be fine, right?”
“No, we only have one in the first place…”
While they were talking about it, Seira began to set up the firework box.
Having no choice, Yamato offered to light the fire. He couldn’t afford to puncture her kimono with sparks of fire.
“Here we go.”
Yamato lit the fire with trepidation.
It was over way too fast.
“Okay, let’s move on.”
“At least tell me what you think of it…”
After that, they continued to enjoy the fireworks, which included a wide variety such as mouse fireworks and snake balls, until he realized that there were only sparklers left.
“I don’t really like these.”
Seira said boredly as she held the sparkler in her hand.
“You don’t? I love it. It’s a summer tradition, and I feel strangely at home just looking at them.”
“Wow, then I’ll try it.”
Seira also began to show interest, so Yamato got on board and lit the sparkler in her hand.
A small fire was lit, and soon, it crackled and popped with sparks.
Bending down in line, Yamato watched the melancholy scene and thought about the events of the day—
Just as he was about to do so, Seira raised her voice
It seemed that her fire had already gone out.
“I guess I win.”
Seira looked miffed when Yamato said that without thinking about it.
“No, you didn’t say anything about a match, so there wasn’t anything to win. If you want to have a match, we’ll start now.”
“Hey, do you have any tips for me?”
Since there are not many moments where Seira asked for help, Yamato spoke with pride.
“Well, first of all, it would be good to think about something to calm down. Maybe even talk about something. Anyway, it’s important to focus your mind so that your hand doesn’t shake. Especially—”
“Talk. Then let’s talk about something.
“At least let me finish…”
Yamato, already more disturbed in spirit, ignited the sparkler.
Seira immediately began to talk.
“Once upon a time—”
“You’re not letting me finish? —Ah.”
Yamato’s fire diminished as he vigorously tsukkomi’d.
“Yamato was right. I won easily.”
“You really didn’t…”
Seira, smiling pleasantly, was so cute that the momentum of Yamato’s tsukkomi was lost.
“Then, this time, Yamato should talk.”
Then she lit another fire and turned the conversation over to him.
“Well… Then can I ask you a question?”
With his gaze fixed on the sparkler, Yamato asked what had been bothering him.
“I thought Kosaka-san was your rival? But at that time, Kosaka-san said that when she spoke to Shirase, you were very curt with her.”
Seira, too, pondered his question without taking her gaze off the sparkler.
“Well, except for Tsubaki, everyone else generally stopped competing with each other after the first time, so I guess I was a little bit irritated.”
“Is that so? I’m sure that Shirase was overwhelmingly stronger than them.”
“Well, yes. That’s what they wanted.”
The tone of Seira’s voice was slightly lowered.
Yamato reflected on the thought that perhaps it was something she really did not want to talk about.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have casually asked you just for the sake of my curiosity.”
“No. Thanks to Yamato, I became friends with Tsubaki.”
“Thanks to me?”
When Yamato involuntarily turned his gaze, he saw Seira’s profile illuminated by the fireworks—
Yamato’s fire, shaking due to him being distracted, fell to the ground.
“I guess I lost.”
He said with a smile, but still, Seira did not avert her gaze from her sparkler.
Taking advantage of this, Yamato continued to look at her for as long as he liked, while he kept on hammering away, “Aah…”
Soon after that, Seira’s fire also fell to the ground, and the area instantly became dark.
“Aww, I thought I’d last a little longer, but Yamato kept looking at me.”
“Oh, it’s my fault?”
It seemed that he had been caught staring at her, and Yamato did his best to hide his embarrassment.
Then Seira glanced at him.
“Yamato, you were pretty concerned about Tsubaki. You always tried to maintain our relationship and sometimes I would see you two whispering to each other.”
“So you noticed that.”
“No, I’m talking about this.”
Again, Yamato lit the sparklers for both of them, and distracted Seira’s focus.
Seira returned her gaze to the fireworks and continued.
“I thought I shouldn’t lose while I was learning. But when you get down to it, it’s about performing at your best, right? So I didn’t care about anyone else.”
The desire not to lose in the lessons one learned, that much Yamato could understand. It was more or less a competitive spirit that everyone has in their hearts.
However, how many people could reach that point where they could face only themselves, without worrying about others around them?
Seira spoke of this as if it were a matter of course, but it means that she understood that if she fully exerted her ability, no one would be able to get close to her. Yamato didn’t know if this was on purpose or not, but he couldn’t help but realize again that she was a true genius.
The pressure of having such an existence around one’s self must have been immense. No wonder most of them lost the desire to compete with Seira after the first time.
In such a case, Yamato’s feelings were more connected with those people. Although he could understand the feelings of the genius on Seira’s side, he could not sympathize with her.
But now was the time to listen to Seira’s side of the story so Yamato desperately pushed aside his feelings of confusion and listened to the rest of it.
“I was facing myself like that. It was like that all those years. I rarely had fun, and I didn’t like practicing.”
Seira faced what she didn’t think was fun. It was hard for Yamato, who only had contact with the Seira of the present day, to imagine that.
Seira continued, both nostalgic and melancholic about her distant past.
“I was rewarded a little when I won first place in a competition. I could feel that I had beaten myself, and when I reported it to my grandfather later, he praised me.”
“I even used to go to that amusement park to relax when I was having a hard time.”
“So. That’s why I didn’t care about other people. But Tsubaki was always with me, always challenging me.”
These words were unmistakable proof that she recognized Tsubaki as a rival.
Seira’s mouth twisted slightly in an expression akin to irritation.
“I thought Tsubaki was a pain, and when she narrowed her focus to ballet, I was aware of it. I wondered if she thought she could beat me in ballet.”
“Even Shirase can be conscious of someone.”
Yamato was surprised to hear such words from her own mouth.
Thinking that he might be jealous, he turned his attention to the fireworks to calm his feelings.
But then, their sparklers fizzled out at the same time.
Regardless of this, Seira opened her mouth.
“I don’t know what people around me thought of me, but I myself have always been full of it.”
“Did it ever occur to you to turn to someone else? Someone around you, besides your grandfather.”
“Yes, I did. However, I didn’t think it would have any positive effect on my performance.”
“How stoic can you be?”
Of course, she was not perfect at all.
As a result of placing the highest priority on the quality of her performances, she neglected to take care of her own mental health.
“That’s why I lost it. I understand now.”
Seira said with a self-mocking laugh.
Perhaps she was referring to a time in her not-so-distant past, when she parted ways with her father. The trigger must have been the loss of her grandfather’s amusement park.
“But you’ve grown up enough to understand that, haven’t you? —Impressive.”
After saying this from an outsider perspective, Yamato lit their sparklers again.
“Fufu, that’s right. Maybe it was thanks to Yamato.”
“Stop, I’m embarrassed. I’m sorry I said that, so please forgive me.”
The sparklers were burning brightly and healthily, and Seira was smiling.
While feeling satisfied with such a moment, Yamato, who had finished listening to the whole story, voiced his thoughts.
“But if that’s the case, I think Shirase and Kosaka-san have been friends for a long time.”
“What do you mean?”
“Because what I know about rivals is that they are synonymous with friends. Well, I’ve never had a rival, so I’m just saying things I read from a manga.”
“Oh, I see.”
Seira wasn’t too sure what to expect from that explanation.
Still, a relationship in which they were aware of each other, competed with each other, and improved their skills was enough to define them as “friends”.
Hence, Yamato continued in a bit of a huff.
“In short, I wasn’t exactly Shirase’s first friend, as your grandfather said.”
When Yamato smiled to himself, Seira grinned wryly.
“I’m jealous. You’re so cute.”
Seira said teasingly and pinched his cheek.
“Shirase is such a S, rubbing salt in people’s wounds… Good grief, what’s with the ‘I don’t have the personality to be lumped in’? I feel like punching the me in April for telling Shinjo that with a smug look on my face.”
Yamato was surprised to hear her say that he was cute while Seira had a look on her face that said, “Who’s Shinjo?”
She then immediately said, “Well, it doesn’t matter.”
“But I still feel that Yamato and Tsubaki are different. It doesn’t make sense to me that we are friends.”
“Well, you weren’t aware that Kosaka-san was your friend, and I’ve simply spent more time hanging out with you than she has. …I think it’s fair to say that I’m a better ‘best friend’ than she is.”
It was embarrassing to label himself as a “best friend,” but the desire to be thought of as special, rather than being treated in the same category, won out. Yamato felt bad for Tsubaki, but he had no choice in the matter.
But Seira still didn’t seem to get it.
“I guess? I still don’t know, but it doesn’t feel right.”
Yamato, somewhat disheartened by the denial, half-heartedly replied.
“Ugh… I see. Then it’s simply because I’m a boy and she’s a girl?”
“Ah, maybe that’s it. Yamato doesn’t hug me.”
“Is that normal!? —Eh!?”
In a spur of the moment reaction, his sparks flew into his knee.
Because of this, Seira was once again the winner.
But Seira’s attention didn’t seem to be on the fireworks.”
“…Yeah, something feels right.”
Yamato asked, concerned about the hole in the knee of his pants, and Seira turned to him and said.
“Yamato is, after all, a boy.”
“On the contrary, I wasn’t treated like a boy, was I…?”
“No, it’s not that. —Well, okay, let’s give it a try.”
Seira then let go of the sparkler, got down on her knees, and hugged Yamato—
Suddenly, only Yamato’s surprised voice echoed in the night darkness.
Yamato fell on his back as he recoiled from the powerful hug and tried desperately to think, but it was no use. His mind was already occupied with the soft touch and sweet smell.
The long but short time of bliss came to an abrupt end.
“I get it.”
Seira said calmly, and then she moved her body away from Yamato and looked at him.
“What exactly did you get from that…?”
Yamato asked, half distracted, and Seira nodded happily.
“Yeah, it was kind of calming~. Also, I was a little nervous.”
“H-Haa…? I-It’s normal, one would be nervous if they were hugged by someone of the opposite sex…”
In fact, Yamato was still nervous. In addition, he was also nervous whenever Tsubaki and Mei made skin-to-skin contact with him.
However, this was proof that Seira recognized Yamato as a member of the opposite sex. Saying that he should be pleased would be an understatement.
However, the feeling of calmness did not ring true for Yamato. At least he was beginning to suspect that there was still some aspect of him that she could not see as a man after all.
However, Seira was not convinced by Yamato’s reaction.
“No, I wouldn’t think of hugging a boy other than Yamato. I don’t think I’d be like this either even if I did.”
“What about Yamato? Did your heart beat faster?”
“I’ve been telling you for a while now, of course it did. Don’t ask the obvious…”
When Yamato looked away in embarrassment, Seira smiled softly.
Satisfied, Seira stood up and offered her hand.
“Ah, thank you.”
Yamato took her hand and stood up, but realized there were no more sparklers left.
“I guess so. It’s my win.”
Looking at Seira who was smiling and showing off a V-sign, winning or losing didn’t matter to him anymore.
“Yes, yes, it’s my loss.”
“Sparklers, I think I’m starting to like those.”
“You really have a great personality…”
“I’m going to throw away the leftovers.”
After saying that, Seira left to throw them away.
Yamato sighed, his mind was a complete wreckage.
His heart was pounding so loudly that it felt as if it was about to explode.
Seira hugged him.
The fact alone was a big deal, but in addition, Seira said she was “nervous”. No matter how much Yamato thought about it, he could not come up with a name for this feeling of almost being carried away.
Seira also said that she would never think of hugging a boy other than Yamato. This was also music to Yamato’s ears.
However, he still didn’t understand what she meant when she said she felt “calm” when she hugged him. He wondered if that was what one felt when affection deepened, but that alone sounded crazy and he dropped the idea.
In any case, it was certain that Yamato was special to Seira. Just being able to confirm this again brought confidence for Yamato.
However, Yamato believed that Seira’s feelings for him were different from romantic feelings.
At least, Yamato currently did not have the deciding factor to determine that for certain.
(It’s a bit presumptuous of me. It’s too much of a stretch.)
It was easy to forget when spending time together like this, but Seira was still a top beauty that seemed unreachable.
She was a young lady with perfect looks, brains, and family background. Seira would probably snicker if Yamato said he was out of her league, but even so, it was clear that she was of a different status.
And he didn’t think he was attractive enough to make her fall in love with him.
On top of that, this relationship started when they met and hung out together in the city at night at just the right time.
Yamato has done his best in his own way, and Seira has forgiven him in various ways, but it seemed to him that all of this could be put aside with the words “because we are friends”.
(Even so, I am really appreciative of the relationship we have now.)
Watching Seira’s back as she washed her feet at the tap, Yamato took a sip of the Ramune and found it to be lukewarm and sweeter than he had expected.
After cleaning up, Yamato decided to take Seira home since it was already late.
Seira was humming a cheerful tune as she clanked her clogs against the ground. She seemed to be in a very good mood.
It was also charming that she took a sip of the Ramune in her hand and frowned, saying, “Weird.”
At that moment, a new message arrived on Yamato’s phone.
The sender was Tsubaki.
『Thank you very much for today. Thanks to Yamato-senpai, I have changed my mind and became friends with Seira-senpai. From now on, I will try to get along with Seira-senpai better as her friend and rival. Also, I hope Yamato-senpai would continue to be good friends with me♪』
Seeing the message, Yamato smiled but felt a slight twinge.
The “rival” part. She and Seira, who had already stopped ballet, should no longer be rivals, but he wonders if she typed the wrong word.
“Ah, that’s right.”
Seira said as if she had just remembered something, and stopped walking.
Yamato also stopped and looked back at her, but Seira said plainly.
“I’ve decided to go home for Obon. I’m going to have a proper talk with my father.”
“What… Are you going to be fine?”
The fact that Yamato was told so abruptly made him puzzled.
But Seira nodded with a confident look on her face.
“It probably will go badly, but I thought I could work something out like I did with Tsubaki. I left home before like we had a fight, and we didn’t talk properly last Obon, New Year’s, or even Golden Week, so I think it’s worth a try.”
“Are you going to them? About the lessons and stuff.”
“Yes. I’m going to tell them again that I want to make my own decisions from now on.”
Seeing Seira tell him so, Yamato was again impressed.
Seira was trying to persuade her parents to let her make her own choice. And she was trying to persuade his father, who seemed to be a very hard-headed man.
Yamato was painfully aware that she was very different from himself, who still had no idea what he wanted to do, but had thought of nothing else but spending time with Seira.
“…Hey, can’t I do something for you? If you want, I’ll go with you.”
Still, Yamato had no choice but to say this.
Yamato wanted to protect the time he spent with Seira. This was because it was still the only thing that Yamato wanted to do now.
Then, Seira smiled gently.
“No, I’m fine. I’ll go alone. It is thanks to Yamato that I was able to face my parents like this again. I can’t rely on you any more.”
“I-I see. …I get it, then go for it. I’ll always be on Shirase’s side.”
Yamato, rousing himself from his depression, let out a positive cheer.
“Thank you, that made me very happy.”
She smiled so happily that it made Yamato embarrassed from what he just said.
“Well, you better get back to me when you come back.”
“Yes, I will.”
After that exchange, it was silent for a while.
They arrived at Seira’s house without any further conversation.
“See you later.”
“Yeah, we still have a few days until Obon, so let’s go to some more festivals around here.”
“Yes, I know. But I’ve spent quite a bit today….I should get another part-time job soon.”
“I’ll come with you when you go, so call me.”
When she had finished, Seira entered her house, clanging her clogs.
“Yeah, good night.”
After seeing her back disappearing behind the auto-locked door, Yamato headed home.
“Good luck, Shirase.”
He muttered to himself as he looked up at the night sky.
[EDN: Hi, sorry for the long delay, there’s just the epilogue remaining after this which shouldn’t take too long. Hope you enjoyed the chapter! Also volume 4 soon.]