I’m Spying on the Heroine in an Otome Game World 63 (end)22 min read
Volume 4 | Chapter 14: December (Down) – Part 2
“……?” Why is he reacting this way? I was confused as I asked, “How’s my hair tie?”
“Ah. Y-Yeah… Don’t worry, it didn’t fall onto the ground,” Iinchou said before he handed me my hair tie. His eyes were wandering around in the air before he sighed deeply. “……She didn’t do it on purpose, right. I know. I know already but…!” He covered his mouth with his hand as he mumbled bitterly, “Niimi-san is really Niimi-san.”
What the heck does he mean?
After that, we somehow managed to get away from the crowd. It was then when I took out my hand mirror. I also had Iinchou shine light at me with his cell phone before I quickly fixed my hair with my hands. Unfortunately, it’s not possible for me to tie up my hair anymore. I’m pretty sure I can’t do it properly with how dark it is.
I returned my hairstyle to my usual style before putting my hair tie into my bag so I don’t lose it again.
“Thank you for holding a light for me. ……Do you think you can find Yumi-chan and the others?” I asked.
Iinchou shook his head.
Our group was large as it included Yumi-chan, the members of Neo Candle, Katsuragi-kun, Matsumoto-kun, Maria-jou, and Kyouko-jou. I feel like we could find at least one of them easily. Sadly, it’s actually quite troublesome since it’s crowded with people and really dark.
I pondered on what we should do when I heard a small scream in the distance.
No matter how many people there might be, I won’t mistake this voice for anyone else. It’s Maria-jou.
I shifted my eyes to where I heard the scream and found Maria-jou after all. She was walking away from the crowd and tripped over the gravel. It was pretty dangerous but, thankfully, she didn’t fall over as Katsuragi-kun reached out his arms and supported her.
When I looked closer, I found Kyouko-jou and Yumi-chan near her. The two of them rushed over to Maria-jou.
“Are you okay?” Katsuragi-kun asked.
“I-I’m okay. I’m sorry,” Maria-jou replied.
Katsuragi-kun has the number one reflexes in our group.
It’s at this time when a small ripping sound occurred.
“Ah! My sandal strap……!” Maria-jou cried out. What happened was probably that thing Iinchou was worried about. The so-called [Geta Strap Breaking] event, that is. I guess it’ll happen even with normal sandals instead, huh.
“Are you okay~!?”
Iinchou and I pushed aside the crowd of people to reunite with our friends.
Maria-jou was panicking as she looked at Katsuragi-kun. “Why… did it happen now?” She mumbled quietly. It seems she didn’t purposely trigger the event either. To begin with, Christmas was long over.
Katsuragi-kun was confused. He didn’t understand what Maria-jou was shocked about after all. He helped her stand straight before he let go of her and stepped back.
“Are you okay, Maria?” Kyouko-jou asked as she checked Maria-jou’s sandals. She frowned and said, “Your sandal strap broke. You didn’t bring a pair of replacement sandals, right?”
“No, I didn’t…” Maria-jou replied.
Most people won’t, I would think.
“Does anyone have some sort of string? One that isn’t too thin.”
“Oh, in that case…” I started to rummage my bag next. Iinchou next to me looked startled. I took out a handkerchief before I mercilessly ripped it. Iinchou looked even more astonished next.
“Is there a problem?” I asked him.
Iinchou merely shook his head without a word. “Sorry. …..I was worrying too much. I underestimated you a bit, Niimi-san.”
“Huh?” I frowned, not understanding him at all. Iinchou shook his head again and kept quiet.
Wait, did he think I’ll hand over my hair tie? There’s no way that’s happening.
“It’s short but could you use it as a strap by tying it?” I asked the girls.
“Hmmm……. Yumi, did you bring your needle and thread?” Kyouko-jou asked.
“I did bring it… But it’ll be impossible to sew with how dark it is,” Yumi-chan replied, troubled.
“No, it’s wrong of me to try and make it look good. Since we don’t have any other way, let’s do a square knot. Maria, lend me your sandal for a bit,” Kyouko-jou said in the end.
“Kyouko-chan, I can do it. Could you support Aikawa-san in the meantime? Yumi-chan, I’m sorry but could you help shine light at my hands.”
And this is how we quickly dealt with the sandal. Incidentally, Iinchou and Katsuragi-kun just watched us silently.
It looks like Matsumoto-kun and the members of Neo Candle were still lost somewhere. Iinchou, go and contact them with your cell phone.
I somehow made a strap with the ripped handkerchief by tying it and the original strap together. When I inspected the sandal carefully, the original strap broke at the spot you put between the toes. Basically, it’s what you call the frontal sandal strap. I might not have needed to use a handkerchief since it’s longer than the original strap, but oh well.
“How is it?” I asked after finishing.
“I think it’s okay…… I’m sorry for causing trouble for everyone,” Maria-jou apologized.
No, no, it’s good that you aren’t hurt either. Katsuragi-kun, nice job.
It’s then that Katsuragi-kun called out to me. “You’re skilled,” he said like he was impressed before tilting his head. “Handkerchief. ……Is it okay? You can’t use it anymore now, right?”
“Yeah,” I laughed. “It’s not expensive to begin with. If it can help someone out like this then I’m pretty satisfied.”
But I have to ask, why didn’t this event happen during the summer festival? Time? Maybe it won’t happen unless it’s nighttime. Or did it not happen because Maria-jou was already doing an event where she needed to help find Katsuragi-kun’s little sister?
Iinchou messaged the lost boys while the rest of us surrounded Maria-jou. Oh yeah, Katsuragi-kun doesn’t have a cell phone. I’m glad we didn’t lose Katsuragi-kun instead.
Eventually, Matsumoto-kun and the members of Neo Candle rushed over to us. We somehow managed to meet up all again.
“I panicked when I lost you guys. I tried phoning too but it didn’t go through,” Itou-kun commented as he panted.
Now that he mentioned it, sometimes calls don’t go through before and after the year changes because there’s too many people calling to celebrate the New Year. I see now. That’s why we weren’t able to contact them earlier.
“Now then, now then, shall we go and pull our fortunes?” I proposed.
No one had any objections.
Our group walked over to the shrine office. To be on the safe side, Maria-jou borrowed Kyouko-jou’s shoulder as support as she walked.
I noticed there were girls dressed up as priestesses lined up at the counter at the shrine office. They’re all so cute… It seems you can buy both fortunes and charms here. It’s mostly the girls buying the charms as the boys didn’t have any interest.
I quickly paid for my share of a fortune and a charm. Incidentally, my charm is one praying for academic success.
Yumi-chan already pulled her fortune, but she didn’t open it up and waited for me instead. I want to open my fortune in a calmer place somewhere else too.
I shoved my hand into the fortune box. The said box was made from wood and seemed quite old. I’ve wondered about this before in the past but would a sumo wrestler’s hand fit in this box too? I mean, the size of the hole is pretty normal. Will their hand get stuck halfway through?
Incidentally, I have no luck with lotteries. If there’s a losing prize in the lottery, I would always get it. When I don’t get the losing prize, I would usually get ‘small blessing’ or ‘future blessing’.
We left the area quickly with our fortunes in hand. Of course, we still stayed in an area where the light from the shrine office could still reach before we opened up our fortunes. Yup, it’s ‘future blessing’, which is only slightly better than ‘bad luck’. It’s like I predicted.
“How did it go?” Yumi-chan asked.
“Future blessing. How about you, Yumi-chan?”
“Normal blessing. Which one is better between future blessing and normal blessing?”
I think normal blessing is higher. I decided to read the section on my academics and romance while Yumi-chan was hesitating over how to judge normal and future blessing.
Also, Maria-jou had ‘great blessings’ like I anticipated. She really has great luck with lotteries.
She stared fixedly at her fortune paper before mumbling, “The person you are waiting for will eventually come, huh……”
Hmm… Just when exactly is ‘eventually’?
By now everyone pulled their fortunes, with the exception of Katsuragi-kun.
Apparently Iinchou got ‘bad luck’ and looked pretty grave. Let’s see, let’s see…
“What’s wrong? Were you the superstitious type?” I asked curiously.
“……No, but, well… Gods have stronger powers over the area they are worshipped at… The more people who believe in them, the stronger they can display their power. While I do think humans can misinterpret, I also believe that there’s basis for the existence of Gods.”
……In other words, his fortune is bugging him. “I see. In that case, it’s a good thing we worshipped late at night then.”
“Eh?” Iinchou made a surprised face.
I laughed. “Iinchou has bad luck this year, but that will end in less than an hour, right? Won’t next year be a better year?”
Iinchou looked astonished. “Don’t you think that’s a sneaky way to interpret this?” He asked.
“Is it? But I think it’s fine to interpret how you want with the results of your fortune. Just remember the good parts and forget all the bad ones. It’s better than being pessimistic, am I right?”
It was like Iinchou lost his strength before he smiled tiredly. “I wonder if my bad luck actually meant this…… I want to avoid falling any deeper into you and being unable to break away though.”
“Eh?” I tilted my head. Iinchou continued to smile bitterly and didn’t say any more.
The members of our group who didn’t get good results walked over to the space where you can tie your fortunes near the shrine office. However, many other people have already tied their bad fortunes packed full that I couldn’t quite find an empty space.
I looked to the side and found Katsuragi-kun standing there, pointing at the barely vacant space. It’s a little bit high up, so I wouldn’t have noticed it myself.
“T-Thank you.” I stood on my tiptoes as I tied my fortune at the spot Katsuragi-kun found.
I felt his eyes on me, so I looked up. Katsuragi-kun stared at me like he wanted to say something.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
He opened his mouth once before closing it.
Ah, could it be—
“The reason why I changed my hairstyle is because it got caught earlier and got undid,” I explained. And the hair tie is safely in my bag, I added inside my heart.
But it turns out Katsuragi-kun wasn’t concerned about that. He opened his eyes wide before he made a small smile. “I thought you seemed different so that’s why.”
……He didn’t notice that I changed my hairstyle. Well, it’s dark too. Ah, oh yeah. I might as well ask while I’m at it…
“Incidentally, what kind of hairstyle do you like, Katsuragi-kun? For a girl, I mean.” I regretted it after I asked because it was a weird question.
Katsuragi-kun was surprised, widening his eyes, before he inclined his head. “What kind… I don’t think I have any to say I have a type…”
Hm, I guess he’s the type that doesn’t care too much. It’s true that he has an image of not caring about a girl’s clothing or hairstyle.
While I was thinking about this, Katsuragi-kun mumbled something out quietly.
“……I do think it’s nice to see something I don’t get to see on a normal basis.”
What does he mean? Like it’ll be interesting if a girl changes her hairstyle a lot?
Katsuragi-kun covered his mouth with his hand like he was startled and looked the other way. “N-No, it’s… nothing.”
I was trying to interpret his words, but it looks like he doesn’t want to touch this subject any further. I decided to end this topic here.
“Come to think of it, Katsuragi-kun, you didn’t pull a fortune in the end. Do you dislike things like this?” I asked.
“I don’t think people need to have their fortunes determined by another person. Same with wishes. When you decide on something, it is you who will make it happen. That’s why besides telling myself my own goal when worshipping, I don’t really have much to do……”
It seems he doesn’t place his hopes and wishes to Gods.
In that case, why did he join our midnight shrine visit? Well, it’s true that it’s fun going out with friends though.
“Plus, there’s no need to go as far as pulling a fortune,” Katsuragi-kun said, turning to me.
“If I have to judge my luck for this year as good or bad, then it’s definitely good. I’m also hoping that next year is good as well,” he told me.
“You had a good year?”
“Yeah,” Katsuragi-kun agreed with a gentle smile.
Now then, everyone has pulled their fortune. We have nothing else to do now~ There’s only about 30 minutes before it’s a new day.
Should we leave the shrine for the time being and come again after it’s the new year?
“Should we go buy something hot to drink? It’s cold, I mean,” I suggested. Incidentally, I’m starting to get sleepy. I want something to wake me up. But, you see, this shrine doesn’t have vending machines on the shrine grounds.
“In that case, I wonder if there’s anywhere for us to sit too,” Kyouko-jou said. She has been lending her hand to Maria-jou this whole time whenever we walked. “Maria’s been walking with a hastily fixed sandal, right? I want to let her sit down somewhere.”
Now that Kyouko-jou brought that up, Maria-jou has been walking without a single complaint. Still, she looks a little uncomfortable now. I wonder why I didn’t notice earlier… I’m going to reflect on this.
“Is there a bench somewhere?”
We all turned to look at one another. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a shrine I visited often. It was also dark, and there’s too many people that I couldn’t tell what was what. I’m sure there will be less people if we went to the parking lot, but I can’t remember if there’s anywhere to sit there.
“There’s a convenience store near the shrine, so let’s try going there in the meantime. It’ll be better than standing on a gravel path, don’t you think?” Iinchou proposed.
We all turned back and returned to the shrine entrance. A convenience store is a good choice to buy something to drink too. Cheers for hot tea!
It’s at this moment that I spotted a familiar person. There was a single boy out of breath at the entrance of the shrine.
He rested his body on a sport-type bicycle as he panted heavily. I also noted how lightly he was dressed. He wasn’t wearing a scarf or gloves either. He was only wearing a single down jacket.
“Tsukkun!?” Maria-jou cried out with surprise. The other members of our group also noticed Tsuchiya-shounen.
Maria-jou wanted to rush over to the exhausted Tsuchiya-shounen’s side but Kyouko-jou stopped her. After all, Maria-jou was wearing a kimono and a hastily-fixed sandal was too dangerous.
“He came faster than I thought,” Kyouko-jou said calmly.
Tsuchiya-shounen looked at her accusingly for a second before he approached us. “Are you okay? I heard you got hurt,” he said, calling out to Maria-jou.
“H-Hurt?” No, I didn’t….. I just tripped a bit,” Maria-jou replied with confusion.
This time Tsuchiya-shounen widened his eyes with surprise.
……I see. It seems Kyouko-jou was a bit nosey this time and messaged Tsuchiya-shounen about the sandal strap breaking incident with exaggeration. When did she do this?
Tsuchiya-shounen couldn’t get away from the major cleanup at his house earlier. I’m not sure if he’s finished now but he must have rode his bicycle here in a hurry.
I wonder how long it took for him to get here? I’m sure there was a possibility of him getting lost too. Yet, despite that, he came all the way here without hesitation… Not bad!
Cheering and applause rang inside my heart.
But! Tsuchiya-shounen! It’s okay for you to worry about Maria-jou’s feet but there’s something you should say next, don’t you think!? You need to compliment Maria-jou and how she’s dressed in a kimono! It’s the basics of basics to comment on a girl dressed up prettily!
“You have good timing. Could you escort Maria back home later? I rather not have her walk all the way to the station,” Kyouko-jou said.
Maria-jou hurriedly looked over at Kyouko-jou. She didn’t see that coming, it seems. “Wait, that’s…! I still haven’t prepared my heart…!” Maria-jou mumbled under her breath.
Well, let’s leave that aside. I’m going to suggest something next.
“That sounds like a good idea. Plus, Tsuchiya-kun, you made it all the way here, so spending another hour would be fine, right?”
“Well, yeah, I guess…”
“It might be impossible to worship but at least visit the shrine when it’s midnight. Once it’s the new day, go and escort Aikawa-san home. Ah, but, don’t ride the bicycle together with her, alright? Your bicycle doesn’t have a luggage carrier, so it’ll be way too dangerous to make a girl wearing a kimono sit at the same time.”
My ideal is this: Maria-jou will sit sideways on the saddle while Tsuchiya-shounen slowly pulls the bicycle forward with his hands. It’ll be kind of like a prince on a white horse. Well, it’s a bicycle though.
Maria-jou went ‘but’ and ‘umm’ for a while, but she doesn’t dislike the idea at all. Everyone can tell. I mean, she’s blushing red.
Still, I have to say, her fortune is amazing. It said ‘the person you are waiting for will eventually come,’ right? That was pretty fast. You can’t look down on great blessings.
Sadly to say, Tsuchiya-shounen didn’t compliment Maria-jou dressed in a kimono. I was hoping to see him mumble out a compliment while blushing like a pure-hearted boy. This damn blockhead. Come back after reading shoujo manga!
After that, I waited for the new day with everyone.
The members of our group checked their wristwatches, and if they didn’t have one, they checked the time with their cell phones. Our plan is to exchange Happy New Year greetings with each other once it’s the new day and place our hands together towards the front shrine in prayer before going home. Yup, yup, I think this is a rather good start to a new year.
I was thinking about such things and realized I received a new message on my phone.
The sender was Kazu-nii, and the subject line was: [Read this when it’s midnight].
I tilted my head. It doesn’t seem urgent, so couldn’t he say whatever it is to me once I get home?
“What’s wrong, Shiori-chan?” Yumi-chan asked curiously.
“Oh, no, it’s nothing,” I replied, shaking my head.
We all continued to wait for the new day.
Eventually, we heard the sound of the bell, signalling New Year’s Eve. When the year was almost over, voices echoed in the shrine grounds, counting down seconds.
The bell will ring 180 times. I’ve heard before that 180 is the number of worldly desires humans have, but I can’t help but question if humans really had this many.
As the sound of the bell echoed, I felt somewhat solemn.
The year is going to end like this, huh.
It was quite busy, but I also lived to the fullest. And, most importantly, I’m really glad I was able to get along with everyone I met. I mean, I’m surrounded by so many friends right now and able to greet the New Year with them. It’s not something the past me could have even imagined.
Now then, I do plan on saying Happy New Year to everyone the moment it’s the new year, but let’s check that message a little ahead of time.
I opened up the message and the following words jumped into my eyes.
[Happy New Year. Take care of me this year as well. -Kazuto]
My heart skipped a beat.
It was a very normal message. It’s the kind of fixed phrase you would use in a New Year’s card. If anything, I wanted to ask him to think of something a little bit different.
But, you know… Kazuto, huh.
I wonder when’s the last time he signed a message with his name. I never include my name when I send him messages. He, too, didn’t bother to include his name, so it was our standard to go nameless. As for why exactly, it’s to be on the safe side. If someone sees our cell phone’s messages in school, they won’t be able to tell who it came from at first glance. I’ve also registered him as [Kazu-nii] in my cell phone, so I doubt anyone could tell right away.
“What’s wrong, Shiori-chan? You’re smiling.”
I quickly looked up from my cell phone and saw Yumi-chan’s questioning look.
“I-I’m smiling?” Uwaah. That’s embarrassing. Was I smirking? But there’s nothing really to smile about. I wracked my brain.
Nine, eight, seven……
The voices of the boys counting down the seconds echoed in the area.
Maria-jou looked quite happy before she glanced up at Tsuchiya-shounen by her side. However, the said Tsuchiya-shounen was too busy counting down the seconds with the other boys. Maria-jou pouted a bit before she smiled like this was fine too. I guess she changed her mind on whatever she decided before. In the end, Maria-jou also started to join the countdown with a smile.
Kyouko-jou was going to take a picture the moment the New Year starts, so she was setting the timer on her camera.
“Yeah, you were. Shiori-chan…… Your face is red, you know?”
Five, four, three……
“It’s dark! It’s probably just your imagination!” My voice went high-pitched for some reason.
“Really?” Yumi-chan replied back.
I quickly turned off my cell phone’s screen…… Before starting down at it once more. My answer to him will have to wait until the New Year begins but that should be fine.
…The moment it was the New Year, everyone exclaimed at once, “Happy New Year!”
We bowed our heads down, smiled brightly, and blessed this new year.
Once we finished, we decided to head home. The train was still running today, so we left Maria-jou and Tsuchiya-shounen behind before heading to the station together.
Regarding those two, I hope their relationship progresses even a little, you know? Also, Tsuchiya-shounen, at least say a single word about her kimono, okay?
Before I joined the rest heading to the station, I sent a single message.
I feel like there will be many people sending messages at this time. My message might get caught in the jam and be late. I wonder if my message will reach first, or if I’ll reach home first.
He’s probably awake and is waiting for me. I feel like it’ll be a lot faster to say it to him face-to-face when I see him again.
As I thought of this, my lips curved up into a smile.
[Happy New Year. Please take care of me too. -Shiori]
Kazu-nii, try not to do anything bad for my heart, okay?
TL note: Thank you for reading until the end! I hope you enjoyed it like I did.
For me, the protagonist was very cute and strong willed. The story actually touches on otome game vs reality mechanics and how it just doesn’t really work out. The capture targets are real living people and not simple tropes and reacted to these otome game reality, knowingly or not. Whether it was defensive like Kaneshiro by purposely staying out the way and threatening or super-offensive like Father Michel, it ‘existed’ unlike maybe in some monologue by the protagonist. The heroine is not black-and-white and did royally screw up, but at the same time, you can tell she is just a teenager who used her past life memories as escape.
The ending for this novel is what I call the ‘girlfriends ending’ but I thought it makes the most sense because Shiori hasn’t fallen in love with anyone yet. If she did, she would have seen that person during the wedding scene. So good luck to Kazu-nii, Iinchou, Katsuragi, and Itou-kun!
And now that this novel is complete, I can finally say that I’m in the Iinchou team. He really needs to give up and admit his feelings, don’t you think?