Sakamoto had told him that if he didn’t want to go back to his home in Tokyo, he could spend the time at his instead, but he’d refused, saying he’d much rather study considering he’d just barely passed the maths exam.
In reality though, Fumiya just wanted to be alone.
Since Akamatsu-san’s probably gone home as well, I’ll just relax for now. I wonder what I can see from the third-floor window. Maybe I’ll play the shamisen for a bit, too.
On either side of the hilly road between the shopping district in front of the station and the side gate of the dorms, cherry blossoms were planted at regular intervals. That year’s cherry blossoms were still buds, but at the peak of the cherry blossom season, the sky would be colored a light pink; it made sense for the dorm to be called the Sakura Hill Dormitory.
It was when Fumiya was about to pass under the gate that he noticed it: the flowers of the cherry blossom just behind the gatepost were trying to bloom. No, two or three of them had already bloomed.
Fumiya loved flowers. Especially the cherry blossoms which added so much color to the spring.
Without thinking about it, Fumiya’s mouth turned up into a smile and he ran all the way up to the third floor of the dorm. Sure that his roommate wouldn’t be in their room, he vigorously threw the door open and bounded into his room.
The minute Fumiya saw a boy sprawled out on the bed, he froze in place. Holding his breath, he quietly watched him. Even after a few seconds passed, his upperclassman thankfully remained asleep.
Fumiya breathed out in relief.
It was all well and good that he was asleep, but before he knew it, Fumiya could no longer move, eyes attached to his sleeping face.
…His hair is light brown. Ah, but there’s a bit of gold mixed in. It looks as smooth as silk…
The hair on top of the boy’s gently curving forehead was shining.
I think his eyes were a strange color, too…
Were they blue? Or gray?
As interested as Fumiya was in the odd appearance of this boy born from a European mother and a Japanese father, he knew that he shouldn’t stare. Besides, he was afraid that Akamatsu Souichirou’s existence was so bright that it would blind him. However, now that he was asleep…
The kimono that he seemed to like to wear always made his tall figure look majestic, but now that it was crumpled from how he was laying, Fumiya noticed that he had a surprisingly slim body. Since the position of his hips was high, the length of his hakama was amazingly long.
It wasn’t only the color of his hair and eyes that made him look different to a pure Japanese, the way his skin looked was a bit different, too. He didn’t have tanned skin, rather, it looked as white as fresh milk.
From his high forehead to the straight bridge of his nose… His features were all clearly defined. The eyelids closed firmly shut looked as if they were sunk in, and the eyelashes that bent backwards to meet his slightly elevated cheekbones were surprisingly long. As his lips, which were unexpectedly plump, moved as he mumbled in his sleep, Fumiya felt a surge of affection.
Fumiya couldn’t help but find himself wanting to try trailing his finger from the sharp tip of Souichirou’s nose, down and up along the bridge of his nose, up to his eyebrows. At that, the tips of his fingers twitched.
Moved by his curiosity, Fumiya was already sitting near the sleeping body before he even had the time to think.
As if Souichirou was aware of Fumiya’s wish to see that rare eye color properly just once, his eyes opened.
Forgetting to jump back, Fumiya just stared into those eyes.
Souichirou’s eyes were a beautiful hue—gray tinged with blue. They had a transparency to them that almost made them look like two glass balls, glittering with moisture.
When Fumiya saw an expression filled with curiosity that made him realize he was most likely making the same face, he nearly laughed at himself. Something began to distort his sight, and the strange way in which he widened his eyes was oddly amusing.
Noticing a hand suddenly reaching towards him, Fumiya pulled back.
“D-Don’t touch me…!”
Having come back to his senses, Fumiya immediately stood up.
“Even though you were sitting right beside me and looking at me while I was asleep, you think you have the right to tell me not to touch you?”
Akamatsu Souichirou got out of his bed and approached Fumiya as he backed away.
When Fumiya’s back hit the window and he could no longer go any further, they faced each other with only a person’s distance between them.
Unable to withstand the piercing gaze, Fumiya averted his eyes down to the floor.
“It’s not like I’m going to bite you or anything. Do you just not like me? I know there are a lot of people who are disgusted by how I look, but I’ve never seen someone so obviously trying to avoid looking at me… It kinda hurts.”
Fumiya frantically looked up.
N-No! That wasn’t my intention at all!
Somehow, he’d managed to look back up again, but it was like his lips were stiff and he could barely get his words out.
Being looked at with such intensity instilled such fear in Fumiya that he became as still as a rock. But even as his eyes began to fill with tears, the color of Souichirou’s eyes still looked beautiful.
“You want to say something to me, right?”
Sighing at Fumiya’s bleary eyes, Souichirou changed his tone.
“Sharing with an upperclassman must be frightening for you, huh? Not to mention you’re having to stay with someone like me…”
Fumiya frantically shook his head from side to side, and desperately wrung out words from his throat.
“W-When I s-saw you, th-the first… thing I thought was… that y-you were pretty. I-I mean to say, the color of your hair and… your f-features are.”
“You think I’m pretty?”
Souichirou’s mouth suddenly opened in surprise, but it quickly changed to a smile filled with cynicism.
Noticing his change in expression, Fumiya only became even more flustered. Maybe it was rude of me to use the word ‘pretty’ to describe a boy.
“P-Please forgive… me.”
Again unable to withstand the intensity of Souichirou’s gaze, Fumiya turned his head down and mumbled an explanation to his choice of words—as he didn’t exactly have one, he had to think fast.
“I-I thought that… y-you sort of looked… like the prince out of a p-picture book I read once… U-Um, I… I had it… when I was younger. It was a f-foreign book. Y-You look… a lot like the p-prince in one of the illustrations…”
“A prince, huh?” the son of the earl spat out.
“Anyway, the way you speak really gets on my nerves. Can you not just speak normally?”
Fumiya bit down hard on his lip.
“Well, whatever. But you know, if you’re going to talk to me while in front of me, you should at least look at me while you’re speaking. Do you not think so?”
“Ah… Y-Yes, sorry.”
The speed at which Fumiya raised his head made him feel slightly dizzy.
Even while having no idea what he was saying, words flew out of his mouth.
“T-To help save the p… princess, the prince found the… courage he needed to f-fight… He rode a white horse, and ran through the forest…”
After rescuing the captured princess, the prince and princess fell in love at that moment, and after getting her parents’ blessings, the two of them married and they lived happily ever after.
“If that’s the case, become my retainer.”
It was an unexpected order.
Souichirou grinned at Fumiya’s widening eyes.
“There’s nothing wrong with me being a selfish prince, is there?”
“S-Such a prince… w-wouldn’t be… a prince. A p-prince is full of pride and is a bit r-reckle—“
“Will you become my retainer?”
Fumiya began imagining himself on a horse galloping after the prince on his own white one in the dark forest—not that he had any experience of horse-riding.
“W-Would you… be o-okay with… me?”
Souichirou wasn’t exactly happy about having his pleasant afternoon nap being disturbed by a cowardly boy he could barely understand.
However, he found the way that Fumiya was clumsily trying his hardest to speak, even while constantly stuttering, charming; he understood that the boy didn’t have the personality to be able to compliment another easily.
“Whether you are or not doesn’t matter…”
Suddenly, Souichirou burst into laughter.
“A retainer is supposed to do everything in his power to protect the prince, even if it means sacrificing his own life, but you don’t look strong in the least. You’d suit the role of the princess more than the retainer.”
“…B-But the princess is a… g-girl,”
Fumiya said, lips trembling as they twisted into a frown of self-deprecation.
“Do you not want to be the princess?”
“D-Despite how I may look, I-I’m a b-boy.”
When Souichirou narrowed his eyes quizzically, Fumiya deeply lowered his head as if trying to avoid his gaze.
Don’t tell me his looks are a sore spot for him? He’s got beautiful enough features that I’m pretty sure he could wrap so many people around his little finger if he really wanted to…
He couldn’t help but think about the way Fumiya always had his head turned down like he were a servant, or the way he always stammered so much that it was irritating.
Noticing a single light pink petal on the top of Fumiya’s head, Souichirou gently lifted it up between his fingers.
It was the German word for cherry blossoms.
“You had one on your head.”
Souichirou showed the petal nestled in the palm of his hand.
“…B-But… most of them s-still… aren’t in bloom…?”
“Then maybe this is snow.”
Souichirou closed his hand tight into a fist, and as if to emphasize that it was shut, he then wrapped his other hand around it.
When he opened it again, the petal was no longer in his palm—it was a simple magic trick, but having no knowledge of such tricks, Fumiya’s eyes blinked in amazement.
“It melted,” Souichirou lied.
Still bewildered by what he had just seen, a faint, fleeting smile showed itself on Fumiya’s face.
When he saw the smile on that pale face, Souichirou’s chest throbbed. It was close to a feeling of love, but it was slightly different to that felt for younger siblings.
Without any words being said to cause it, he suddenly felt irritation. Without warning, he turned away from Fumiya and returned back to his bed. Placing his elbows on the pillow, he closed his eyes.
“I’m going to rest for a bit more. I have difficulty falling asleep, so until I do, don’t move a single muscle. Just stand right there the exact same way you’re standing.”
After Fumiya’s reply, the room fell into a somewhat unnatural silence, but if he focused his ears, Souichirou could hear Fumiya trying his hardest to make his breathing as shallow as possible.
As he counted those breaths, he could feel himself relaxing.
So I’m a selfish prince, huh?
His face broke into a smile.
Not that I’ve ever had a chance to be selfish.
Without ever becoming aware of the smile on his face, Souichirou was pulled into the world of dreams.
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