Saijo no Osewa ~ Takane no Hana [LN] - V3 Chp 2 part 4
The result of the match was a victory for Narika.
At the beginning, the two’s performances were even, and it was hard to predict who would win the overall match, but as far as sports were concerned, Narika had the upper hand. In the second half, Narika began to display the results of her hard work and demonstrated an overwhelming ability that couldn’t be swayed by small psychological warfare.
[Itsuki! It’s a promise! Next time, we’ll go out together!]
[Ah, yeah. Got it]
I remembered there was such a bet.
[Fufufu…. Yattaa…!!] (TN: Senti lives on)
Narika was overjoyed to the point of overreaction.
Hinako, on the other hand, looked frustrated at first, but gradually regained her composure.
[Well, Tomonari-san is also busy, so I don’t know when that appointment will be]
[Haaah!? That’s not fair, Konohana-san!]
[I’m certain I didn’t specify the time of the year]
Narika snarls at Hinako, who smiles to hide her emotions.
(Those two became such good friends…)
Were friendships born after a match? It might be true, like two boys shaking hands after a fistfight on a riverbank, this can sometimes happen even in the world of elite girls.
After that, we took a short break and resumed our practice.
As Hinako and I continued our rally, Narika, who was watching us from behind, gave us appropriate advice. Since the advice was given in real time, it was easy to notice what we were doing wrong.
When I was finally getting the hang of it, the end of the session was announced.
I wanted to practice a little longer, but I noticed that the sky was tinted with the setting sun.
It will be dark soon. The court seemed to have night lighting, but it’s still hard to see the ball under the lights. I knew this because I used to play tennis in the park.
We had enough practice for the day.
We took a final shower and changed our clothes before we parted ways.
[Narika, thank you so much for today. It was good practice]
[I’m glad to hear that]
Narika nodded her head in satisfaction as I thanked her.
[Itsuki is now able to move while thinking, but on the other hand, he’s sometimes awkward. It would be better to work steadily and without haste here. The first thing you need to do is to focus on the course you want to follow to hit the ball]
I was a little surprised to hear her say exactly what I was aware of during practice.
In the second half of practice, I was hitting the ball while observing my opponent’s movements. …That may indeed be an inappropriate approach for me at the moment.
[If you want to stabilize your shots, wall hitting is good enough practice. However, if you do it for too long, you may lose your form, so just be careful with that]
Next time, I’ll ask Shizune-san if there’s a place where I can practice against a wall.
Narika then looked at Hinako.
[Konohana-san is still a wonderfully talented person. She’s well aware of the tasks I explained to her at the beginning. All you need to do now is to practice it over and over again and you’ll be just fine]
[Thank you very much]
Hinako bowed her head elegantly.
The two, who had been in a heated rivalry during the match, now seemed to be reconciled.
[Konohana-san, may I borrow your racket for a moment?]
[? I don’t mind but…]
Hinako handed the racket to Narika curiously.
Narika looked at the grip of the racket she received.
Narka took out a brand new grip she had on her and handed it to Hinako along with the racket.
[Konohana-san is the type of player who controls the ball delicately, so a thinner grip is probably better. I think it will be easier to understand how the ball feels when you hit it]
[I see…. I will definitely use it]
Hinako accepted the grip.
I’m honestly impressed by Narika’s deftness in pointing out problems.
[Narika is good at teaching people]
[R-Really? I don’t have much experience in this kind of hing, so this is the first time I’ve received such a compliment]
Narika laughed happily and embarrassed.
Surprisingly, Narika might have the right personality for a teacher.
[…I guess it’s my turn to work hard again on Monday]
Narika looked at the sunset-tinted sky and muttered to herself.
Compared to the confidence she had earlier, she now looked somewhat anxious.
Without thinking, I said.
[I’m not sure what to say, but if you really don’t like it, you can always take a break from competitions. I’m sure you’ve heard that even Konohana-san takes time off from the academy, and it’s quite common there as well, right?]
[That’s true, but…]
Students at the academy come from special families. From time to time, there are many students who take time off for familial reasons, and in Hinako’s case, she sometimes takes time off due to acting fatigue.
So it would not be impossible for her to take a break from the competition.
If Narika couldn’t shake off the trauma of last year and was so distressed that she felt sick inside, she should just take a break. That is as valid a reason as any family situation.
But Narika eventually shook her head.
[…I want to overcome my weakness as much as possible. Nothing will change if I run away]
Those words sounded very confident to me.
[Narika… is strong]
[Yes. So strong, I don’t think it’s easy to face your weakness like that]
When I said this, Narika’s eyes opened.
But then she chuckled.
[I’m not strong. I’m weak. …But I was told by a certain someone one day that admitting one’s weakness is the first step to strength]
[I think the both of you already understand this, but I’m a bit of a klutz. And to tell the truth, I wasn’t good at sports at the start, even though it’s no exaggeration to say it’s my only strong point now. It’s something I’ve been doing since I can remember]
Is it really…?
When I first met Narika, she had already mastered several martial arts. Judo, Kendo, Aikido, all of which, as I recall, set her apart from her peers.
However, it seems that it wasn’t innate talent, but results of hard work.
[I have experienced many setbacks and suffering since I was a child. I ran so fast that I fainted, and I swung a shinai so hard my hand was covered with calluses. Even so, it wasn’t uncommon to not to get the result I wanted]
Narika looked at her own hands.
If I look closely, I could see several calluses on her palm.
It’s not only in her childhood that she experienced setbacks and suffered.
Narika is still training herself to this day.
[Because of those experiences, I feel like I’ve obtained an initial strength from within myself. …I’ve been through a lot and have been in shambles many times. I’m only good at accepting my weaknesses]
As if revealing her insecurities, Narika laughed a little shyly.
But that’s not something to be ashamed of.
(I see. ….So Narika is good at teaching people things because of this)
Narika may not realize it, but I do.
Being able to accept one’s weakness means they’re also able to accept others’ weaknesses.
That’s why she can instruct others so thoughtfully.
It’s a gift of being able to understand the weakness–The feeling of others who aren’t good at something.
(…I wish everyone knew about this)
I thought this is Narika’s unique charm that should be known to many.
I feel disappointed in many ways, but I still think Narika is someone who deserves respect.
As I was thinking this, I noticed Narika staring at me.
I don’t know why, but Narika continued to look at me and let out a sigh.
After that and a round of farewell, we each headed home.
Me and Hinako got into the Konohana family car with Shizune-san.
The car started moving slowly.
[I’m tired today]
[Nn. ….Can’t move another step]
Hinako, who just stood up and still looked elegant, said as she let loose.
I, too, was aware of my fatigue around the time I took a shower. I didn’t realize it during the workout, maybe it was due to the adrenaline, but now, I feel tired enough to sleep.
[Shizune-san. Is there a place near the mansion where I can hit the walls?]
[There’s a gymnasium next to the dojo that has enough space for a basketball court. Though the material of the walls may not match…]
[Thank you very much. I’ll try it out first]
Whenever I have free time, I’ll practice wall-hitting as Narika suggested.
Unlike Hinako, I don’t have to win. Just like my academics, I just need to do well enough to not place low. …But in any case, I’d like to aim for the best possible results.
It was probably thanks to Narika that made me think like this.
I was motivated by the advice she gave me.
[We also want to help Narika, one way or another]
She said she’d return the favor and teach us tennis, but now I was the one who owed her a favor.
I had to think about what strategy to attempt on Monday…
[…Me too, I will also think]
[You are being quite cooperative, aren’t you?]
To be honest, I find it surprising.
Hinako’s true nature is not that she is cold toward others, but she gives the impression of being more languid than her current self.
[….I can understand her feelings a little… too]
Hinako said in a sleepy tone.
[Me and Miyakojima-san are… different from what people around us think and what we really are]
[….If you ask me, you do have that in common]
[Nn. So… I know how hard it is]
On one hand, Narika is misunderstood, people believe that her family is part of the yakuza or a biker gang, but her true nature is just a timid girl.
On the other hand, HInako is called the perfect Ojou-san and is respected by many, but her true nature is just a lazy girl.
If there’s a clear difference, it’s that Narika’s altered perception is unintentional, while Hinako is very much intentional. In the end though, Hinako is also forced to act the part of it as her duties as the Konohana family daughter. The point that she feels burdened is probably the same.
Hinako may be cooperative because she understands Narika’s feelings.
[By the way…. Itsuki]
Hinako asked, staring at my face.
[Is it true that… The hairstyle Miyakojima-san used was given by Itsuki?]
Hinako’s eyes seemed to have turned slightly stern.
I wonder why Hinako knows this, though we’ve never talked about it….
[…Well, it technically is the case. But that was a long time ago, right?]
Hinako looked dazed.
[Me too… do something]
Does that mean she wants me to play with her hair?
I was confused by her strange sense of rivalry.
[I’ll think about it, but I don’t have any ties with me right now…]
[I have spares just in case]
Shizune-san, in the passenger seat, looked back at me and handed me two hair ties.
She’s too prepared…
[…Shizune-san. You’ve been very kind to Hinako lately]
[Because I am Ojou-sama’s maid. …As a maid, I’m just pushing Ojou-sama’s back]
Shizune-san reverted her gaze to the front without looking back at us again.
When we first met, she seemed to be urging Hinako to be more restrained in her selfishness but…. I wonder if she has had a change of heart.
Or maybe it was Hinako who changed her mind, and Shizune-san sensed something.
Hinako turned her back to me so that I could easily play with her hair.
I thought as I looked at the ties I got from Shizune-san.
(If it’s just a tie, Narika has that already, and Tennoji-san has her own odd style…) (TN: bro really said it’s weird :sob:)
She might’ve misunderstood it but… I’m not an expert hairstylist.
Though, I can think of something that will give Hinako a fresh look.
She usually lets her hair down, and earlier she had a ponytail. So….
[…Then, like this]
I tied Hinako’s hair in two.
The so-called “twin-tail”.
As I expected, it looked good on her. Hinako would probably look cute no matter how she styles her hair. It’s rare to see high school students with twin-tails, but it isn’t as eccentric as blonde vertical rolls.
Hinako looked at her reflection in the windowpane and sounded impressed.
[Soooo, how do you like it?]
[Nnn. …am satisfied]
The hairstyle wasn’t anything special, but Hinako seemed to be satisfied with it.
Hinako leaned forward and rested her head on my lap.
The twin-tail hairstyle flattened and touched my arm.
[I know how you feel, Miyakojima-san, but…. I’m not going to give it up]
In a small voice, Hinako said.
[I don’t… want Itsuki… to take care of… anyone but me…]
Saying this, Hinako closed her eyes.
…Don’t worry, the only person who needs so much attention and care is Hinako.
After a while, steady sleeping breaths can be heard.
For Hinako, today was a day of physical exertion despite it being a day off. She must be tired. To tell the truth, I want to nap for a bit too.
The car stopped and Shizune-san announced our arrival.
I lightly pat Hinako’s head and informed her of our arrival.
Hinako got up and yawned lightly.
At the same time, Shizune-san got out of the passenger seat.
Outside the car, Shizune-san bowed her head in slight surprise.
I looked and saw that just like us, Keigon-san was visiting the mansion in his car.
[Good evening, sir. Can I help you?]
[I just came by for a break. My next meeting is near here]
I exit the car, listening to the exchange between Shizune-san and Keigon-san.
For a moment, our eyes meet.
I bowed my head, slightly nervous.
Then, Hinako got out of the car.
[Hinako, you just got home–]
Suddenly, Keigon-san stopped speaking.
Keigon-san’s eyes widened, and he eventually gave a dubious look.
[….What’s with that hairstyle?]
Looking at Hinako’s twin-tails, Keigon-san questioned.
Cold sweat dripped from my entire body.
[…I got Itsuki to do it for me]
Hinako answered honestly.
Keigon-san looked at me with a straight face.
[Is this your hobby?]
[No it is not!!]
It was something I decided on a whim, without thinking deeply about it or it being a hobby of mine.
It’s okay, it’s just for the time being. I won’t do anything to ruin Hinako’s image. …I bowed my head with such a thought in mind.
[Eh…. it’s not….?]
Hinako dropped her shoulders, shocked.
Just shut it for now…!!
Donations are very much appreciated. (EDN: Help fuel me and Ezu’s Honkai addiction plz)