The next day, 25th December.
“That person– Taiyou-kun, right? So dreamy! Isn’t his name perfect for our family? Just like the brilliant sun in the sky, I’m sure he will become a bright sun that will shine upon everyone in our family!” Haruka spoke in a dreamy voice.
“Not Taiyou, Youtarou!” Hikaru interjected bluntly.
As Haruka made space for clothes in the wardrobe and went about cleaning up the room that they would sharing again from today onwards, Hikaru was confused as she wondered.
Yesterday, she had forcibly taken Youtarou to her mother’s place, but how had her actions looked from another person’s perspective? Obviously, Miharu-nee was a bit surprised, and her mother’s actions were a mystery as ever, but what about the person himself? What was Youtarou thinking right about now?
Now that she thought about it, they didn’t ask for his opinion on the matter even once!
Could it be that, he is actually against coming to our house? Hikaru thought worriedly. It’s true that she had not let Miharu or Mama say much by using social justice as a front –I definitely won’t leave him alone on the streets!– And Mama and Miharu had probably intuitively recognized her conviction as well. What surprised Hikaru most was their attitude toward the whole matter. As Miharu had pointed out, including all their little sisters, there were lots of girls at their house. Well, nineteen to be exact. She had thought that they would show a little more resistance to the proposal. She remembered how her mother had said that Youtarou was the first boy Hikaru had taken a ‘liking’ to. Yes, Hikaru admitted honestly to herself, she did hold him in a relatively better light. But it was completely different from the ‘Love’ or ‘Boyfriend’ that her other sisters were always talking about. ‘Like’ also didn’t sit right with her. She just…She was just worried about him.
His last relative had died and he had nowhere to live. Wouldn’t one normally invite such a person to live in his own house? Hikaru did not know that that kind of “normal” didn’t exist anywhere in the whole world. Hikaru was thinking that her current feelings were probably of pity right now.
“Yup, with this, moving rooms is over.” Hikaru said, after putting everything away.
“It’s been quite a while since I shared a room with Hikaru-chan. It’s kind of nostalgic. When you moved into another room, this room felt so big and empty at first, but somewhere along the way I got pretty used to it. Let’s get along again, Hikaru-chan.” Wearing a cute one piece dress as usual, Haruka suddenly came over to Hikaru in front of the closet and rubbed her cheek against Hikaru’s like they were a pair of lovers. A sweet smell reached Hikaru. It’s a really feminine smell. Hikaru had always thought.
Haruka liked one piece dresses, she liked ribbons, she liked the pink color, and she always had this fluffy and soft smell about her. She was like sweet candy, this girl. The third daughter was older than Hikaru and a High-school freshman. Haruka was the older one, but to Hikaru she was like a cute little sister. They had always been in the same room, so unlike the other two older sisters, she had always called her just ‘Haruka’. Once, they even went to sleep while hugging because Haruka was crying due to the thunderstorm outside. To Hikaru, Haruka was an older sister who she had to always protect. Of course, for Hikaru, almost everything was something she had to protect, like in Youtarou’s case.
“I’m sorry. Because of me we had to go back to sharing one room.” Hikaru said, looking at the room which was arranged like a room from a girl’s dormitory, with two beds against opposite walls. Since Hikaru had brought up the whole thing, Youtarou was getting her room, and she was back in this room which was Haruka’s, and had, of course, pink colored curtains.
“That’s nothing to worry about! I’m happy that I’m with Hikaru-chan again. If a thunderstorm starts raging outside, I’ll just snuggle up to Hikaru-chan again.” Haruka said and stuck her tongue out slightly. And then, she suddenly hushed her voice. “Putting that aside Hikaru-chan, Haruka was wondering, this person named Taiyou– …”
“Like I said, it’s Youtarou, not Taiyou!” Hikaru interjected.
“Even if you say that, his name does mean ‘sun’ right?”
“Rather than writing ‘Rou’ with ‘Taiyou’, normally you would write his name as ‘You’ with ‘Tarou’, right? That is more correct.”
“Hmm, you’re right. Tarou can also mean ‘Only son’, right? Then, isn’t it just…”
“Isn’t it just perfect? For our family I mean.” Haruka said, with just a hint of a blush in her cheeks.
“Oh, that again. Well, if Haruka thinks like that, then I’m a bit relieved. But like I explained earlier, you have to keep Youtarou’s circumstances a secret. Mama decided after consulting Miharu-nee and Mizore-nee that it would be best if we didn’t tell anyone about it.”
“Iyan~! Silly Hikaru-chan. Of course I know that. That’s not it. The thing is…”
“You’ve still got something to ask?”
“The thing is…”Haruka once again lowered her voice and drew close to Hikaru excitedly as if she had some big secret to share.
“Geez, Hikaru-chan, you meanie! Hmph! I’ll call him Youtarou or whatever I want…Anyways, could it be that that Taiyou-kun is our “Real” brother?”
“Haaa!?” Hikaru froze. Haruka’s face took on a dreamy expression and her gaze lingered into empty space.
“It’s a spectacular thing…Let me summarize what Miharu Onee-chan told me. First, the small but successful entertainment company True House that Mama runs was looking to expand its business. When they were scouting for their new Hot Boys program, one of the faces among the various scouts somehow interested Mom. After asking him various things, it turned out that he was our long lost brother that was separated from us at birth…That’s the setting right?” Haruka, tilting her head on her forefinger in an endearing fashion, explained to Hikaru step by step as if she were a detective showing off her super theory. “We are all girls in this house, so for us to live peacefully and accept Taiyou-kun, who has lost his own real family, and to live with him while thinking of him as our real family, we have to explain his circumstances in that way. Especially to that girl who is younger than Hotaru-chan. I know that of course, and Haruka thinks that doing that would be for the best.”
“Well then, I don’t see–”
“But, for Mama to come up with a story like that on the spot, don’t you think it’s a bit strange?” Haruka said triumphantly.
“Well yeah, I agree that Mom is not really the type to think things through, and she couldn’t care less if her explanations were not convincing, but the one who came up with the idea first was Miharu-nee, and I wouldn’t put it past Mama to spontaneously decide to follow up on that thought…”
“We are 19 sisters. And what’s more, we are aged from 0 to 19 in a line with one year differences in age and no gaps in between! That a boy was also born in there somehow, wouldn’t that be normally impossible?”
“As I said, I too think that it’s not a very well thought out plan…” Hikaru couldn’t understand where Haruka was going with this.
“Mama surely said something so out of ordinary because he really is our real brother! If you think about it, a lot of things come to mind. First of all, his name– Taiyou!”
It’s Youtarou…Hikaru didn’t have the energy to correct her aloud anymore.
“Us sister’s names are, from the top: Miharu, Mizore, Haruka, Hikaru, Hotaru, Tsurara, Rikka, Kosame, Urara, Seika, Yuuna, Fubuki, Watayuki, Mari, Mizuki, Sakura, Nijiko, Sora, and Asahi. All of our names have something to do with the weather or the seasons, right? And then, there comes along a boy, our brother with a name that means ‘The Sun’! Just with that connection, don’t you feel like this the work of fate? Kyun~!
This is bad. Haruka has entered her Kyun Kyun mode…
“And hearing your side of the story, I still think that no matter how reckless Mama may be, she wouldn’t say ‘OK!’ to us living together with him so easily. Because, you know, we have so many cute girls here!”
Certainly, that had struck Hikaru as a little weird as well.
“And also, does Hikaru-chan know about Papa’s family?”
“No, because I don’t have any interest in such things, at all…”
“But you do know that Papa is from a big old family, right?”
“Yeah well, I know that much, I guess. Papa was the next heir of his family, but Mama was also the heir of our Amatsuka family. That is why their marriage was opposed so they reluctantly chose to both retain their family names and have a commuter marriage. It seems that they still meet outside often, but since Mama is busy with work these days and rarely comes home, we don’t meet him. But even if both of our parents are absent from home, we are 19 sisters after all, and I personally don’t really feel lonely.” Whenever this topic came up, Hikaru brightly laughed it off.
“That’s it!” Haruka raised her finger with vigor as she exclaimed.
“From what Haruka has heard, Papa really loved Mama, but they both also loved their families and treasured them very much as well. So, in the end, they decided to go through with their love for each other while trying to cause as little trouble for others as possible. Kya~! How romantic!”
“But, the children those two were blessed with were all girls. They had 19 children, and yet, all of them were cute girls.” Haruka was completely absorbed in her role of amateur detective and her hands were flying all over the place.
“Well, they were blessed with girls, and it wasn’t exactly something they had control over, right?”
“Geez, Hikaru-chan, you’re so pure. Of course, Haruka also thinks the fact that all their children were girls was only a coincidence. But, have you ever thought why Mama wanted to have 19 kids in the first place? I heard it was because she was a Christian and was inspired by the movie ‘Sound of Music’, but for just that reason 19 kids are too much. You should have wondered about it once or twice too, Hikaru-chan.”
True enough, Hikaru had thought about it once or twice. You would be hard pressed to find 19 sisters…
“So, keeping in mind the reason Mama and Papa couldn’t officially get married, it makes sense that they would want to have an heir. But, if you think about it, Mama’s family owns an entertainment company, and Miharu Onee-chan has already had her debut there as the Morning Weather Lady. Even if it wasn’t for that, you would think that any one of us would be good enough to be the heir, since there are so many of us.”
Hikaru wouldn’t take on the role of the Morning Weather lady even if it meant dying.
“But, Papa’s family…I have heard a little about them. If I remember correctly, they live near the sea in a giant mansion and are related to a famous politician…So their heir has to be a boy, no matter what.”
“Huh? What’s that supposed to mean?” This was the first time Hikaru was hearing about this.
“I think Papa also has a little sister who is quite younger than Papa. For us, she would be our Aunt, I guess? But listen to this. If, just if, Mama did give birth to a boy, what would you think would happen? It’s such a big and influential house. Don’t you think that he would get taken away?”
“That’s absurd. That sounds more and more like…”
“If he really is our true “brother”, then, being the same age as Hikaru-chan, I guess that would make him Hikaru-chan’s twin.”
“Well? Did you feel anything…special about him?”
Her face filled with misplaced expectations, the pink-clad Haruka drew her face close to Hikaru.
“Er, what do you mean by…‘special’?
“Hmm, you know, something special that can’t be understood with words? Maybe…some kind of special bond, or the air around him. You know, something tying you guys together, like the red thread of fate. Haruka thought that maybe you two met because of that special bond, and that caused you to bring him back to us. Bring Taiyou-kun to Haruka’s side…”
Like I said, it’s Youtarou…
“Kya~! What should I do? He is surely our special family member. Oh and not only that, maybe he is the fated prince that Haruka has waited so long for. He will come and sweep me off my feet…”
As Haruka wandered off to the nonsensical world of a maiden, a confused Hikaru was left behind all alone.
At around the same time, one door down the hallway, in the room that was next to the next room in which Haruka was dreaming about her still unseen Prince…
Making a surprisingly unpleasant sound, a small toy railway was running. This was a room for three people. The oldest in this room was the seventh daughter, Rikka, a Middle-school freshman, and after her the eighth, the Elementary-school 6th Year Kosame. A Shounan was crawling around the room at full speed on little blue railway tracks. The third person in the room was the ninth daughter, the Elementary-school 5th Year Urara, who was staring at Shinjuku Line’s double decker railway car.
Kosame had been sitting at the table and doing her homework. She breathed a sigh of relief and closed her notebook. As she pushed back her chair to stand up, gachagacha, the elevated bridge that Urara had constructed fell to pieces. It seemed that before she knew it, Urara had spread had her model railway track all the way under the chair Kosame had been sitting on. The house that the 19 sisters lived in was a grand mansion built on a huge site in the mountains, but no matter how large the house, it was still a 3 person room.
“Ahh! My E231 System!”
“Ah! I-I’m really sorry!” Kosame was not at fault, but she apologized anyway. Urara was in 5th grade already, and she knew that fussing over such a little thing was embarrassing, but she couldn’t help herself. Rikka, who had been lying on the bed reading a teen’s magazine, suddenly jumped up, as her small miniskirt tired it’s best to keep her panties hidden.
“Whoa! This is really bad! I guess Rikka really did mess up her Christmas present request to Santa-san. I guess I should have requested the power-stone written about in this book. Just look at this! “If you wear it, a fated encounter between you and your first love is just waiting to happen”!”
Kosame and Urara both stopped what they were doing. Urara, who had been rubbing her eyes until then, regained her usual calm composure and her cool smile.
“Rikka-chan, today is Christmas day already, and you are still thinking about your Christmas present request?” Are you and idiot, it’s not like Santa really exists– Urara, remembering the presence of Kosame besides her who had become excited, swallowed the words that were about to spill from her mouth. “Santa Claus has probably put Rikka-chan’s present in a bag a long time ago and is probably heading to Japan right now! That’s why he can’t accept a present change request any longer.”
Talking to Rikka, who was two years older than Urara and still believed in the existence of Santa Claus, Urara couldn’t help the fact that some amount of irritation got mixed in her voice. Although it was nothing unusual, Rikka was acting pretty nonchalant, especially considering that Urara had been seriously planning to run away from home in the morning, after hearing something from Miharu Ane-sama that shook her to her very roots.
“That’s right Rikka-chan. Asking Santa-san for a request change this late would only cause trouble for him. And besides, it’s too early for us to have an encounter with our first love…” Kosame said timidly, as she played around with the ends of her long plain braids. As she said it, her face got red. And then she remembered her own request. On December 1st, while making an Advent Calendar, she also wrote a letter to Santa Claus with her little sisters. Her wish in that letter was: “Please give me a ‘Nezunaika Tales’”. It was a somewhat childish, and she was bit worried about that herself. Waving around her long, straight and shiny hair, Urara snorted and interrupted.
“Anyways, it’s stupid. It’s not like the power-stone is actually gonna do anything. And besides, Rikka-chan doesn’t need the help of a power-stone; she can make a boyfriend whenever she wants. She doesn’t have to ask Santa-san, she can experience her fated encounter just fine on her own if she was to get serious…If she can really stand that filthy creature known as a man!”
Ahh, I really, really, really hate men! Urara thought with a shudder. Both Rikka-chan and Haruka Ane-sama often said things like “First love” and “Boyfriend” and “My prince” happily, but Urara could never understand. What was so good about men anyway? The creatures known as men were just smelly, dirty and filthy. They should never be approached, let alone touching them! If she had to go through that, she would much rather go to a nunnery. This was Urara’s thinking. And in the house in which this androphobic girl lived, a boy that went to the same school as Hikaru Ane-sama was coming to live, according to Miharu Ane-sama. When she heard this, she was certain she was going to faint.
She had been thinking the same thing ever since she heard the news in the morning. But it was Miharu Ane-sama who had told her. Knowing about her dislike for men, Miharu Ane-sama was the only one who had pushed to arrange for her to go to an all-girls school. That Miharu Ane-sama had told her. Urara remembered the conservation she had in the kitchen.
“Not ‘a guy’. It’s ‘Onii-chan’. He’s our family. Until now, because of various circumstances, he had been living separately, but he’s Urara-chan’s one and only brother. That’s why he has a right to live in this house as much as you, Urara-chan. You have lived in this house until now, surrounded by your sisters and happiness alike, yes?” Urara though for a moment, then she nodded in agreement.
“Your brother lived all alone, separated from the rest of his family. Don’t you feel sorry for him? Urara, you are intelligent, so I think you can imagine it, right?” Miharu Ane-sama bent down.
“He was supposed to have been brought up in this house, but that opportunity was taken from him and he grew up all alone, not knowing the joy of having sisters, elder or younger. He knew nothing about this lively environment.” A bit too lively, though Urara cynically, but her chest hurt just a little. Usually, she thought that her family was a little too loud, but if she really did start living alone after this, she would probably be really lonely and disheartened.
“You will accept and face him as your own family, right?” Miharu Ane-sama said as she made a kind face and embraced Urara lightly. When spring came, Urara would be a fifth grader, so she was slightly embarrassed.
“Okay, okay, I got it.” She said, pushing away Miharu. “The most I can promise is that I won’t try to drive him out of the house from the first day.”
“I see! As expected from Urara-chan! I guess that’s right. You have to find love on your own after all. Fufufu! I guess asking Santa-san for a shiny nail set was the right choice after all!”
Facing the taken aback Urara and Kosame, Rikka made a ‘V’ with her fingers.
“Yosh! Let’s go find the Santa-san that is heading this way for Rikka and the others right now!”
Is Rikka-chan really older than me? Urara often wondered…
Again at the same time, the 5th daughter Hotaru who was a Middle-school 3rd Year was working in the kitchen. She was making a cake for tonight’s party. The cake was for 19 sisters— no, for 20 siblings. A huge, huge Christmas cake.
Outside, it was cold winter, but inside the tidy and clean kitchen, it was pretty warm, and steam was rising from here and there. The large ribbon that was binding her shoulder length bob-hair was swinging in rhythm to Hotaru’s humming.
Since it was Christmas, and because it was easy to cut and divide, she had decided to make a Bush de Noel. It was a pretty unusual cake, shaped like a tree log, and was quite particular to Christmas. Its normal color was a pretty orthodox chocolate color, but since today was a special day, Hotaru was thinking of making it white using white chocolate.
On the base dough that was made with fresh eggs and really sweet but still just a bit bitter cocoa, she spread lots of freshly made fluffy cream. Then, retrieving the berries that looked like small rubies from the sink, she sprinkled them on the cake here and there. So that the soft dough would not break, she slowly and gently rolled it up. After rolling up the dough, she cut off around a 3 centimeter piece from its end. To make sure that the cake does not collapse, she had to be most careful around here. She set the cut-off piece on its side so that the spiral pattern of the inside of the log-like cake could be seen clearly.
Yes, success! She thought. She carefully put the cut off piece on top of the roll. She was pleased, and put the dough that had collapsed just a little into the oven.
Yup, bitter and delicious. All that was left was to melt the white chocolate on hot water, and mix it with the cream to make a white chocolate ganache cream, and apply that for the decoration. Spread a bit of shaved chocolate and silver dragee over the cake, and she was done.
In the morning, Hotaru had been surprised when Miharu and the rest had broken the news to her. But she got used to the fact so quickly that it surprised even herself.
We are already nineteen people. So what if one more person came along? Hotaru was okay with that. Right now, her feeling of wanting to meet the “Onii-chan” that was supposed to come along today was just oozing out. Hotaru was aware of this feeling, which was a surprising feeling even for her.
I guess I really have wanted a big brother since a long time ago. Hotaru had a pretty reliable and level headed personality unlike the highly distinctive personalities that her other 18 sisters possessed, and usually she didn’t make too much fuss about anything.
Urara, the ninth daughter who got upset easily, often asked “Why is Hota Ane-sama always smiling when I see her?” Hotaru thought of it like this. If you were always smiling, you could always be happy. And besides, there was always something going on in this house that made her smile, so if on the rare occasion she did get angry, it would not be long before something made her smile again.
I guess I’m not very good at getting angry. Hotaru thought while smiling wryly. Wearing an apron with lots of frills while making a cake for everyone was enough to make her happy. If Urara-chan would put on a similar apron and cat ears for her, it would make her even happier.
“Fufufu.” A small chuckle escaped her lips. Her kind, low eyes closed even further.
Hotaru had a cosplay hobby.
That right! If Onii-chan says its fine, I guess I can make a male orientated cosplay costume…I just might be making those from now on! Hotaru’s chest began fluttering.
I guess a cool anime character would be fine too, but the first one has to be a sailor uniform! Or, I guess a butler uniform would be good too. I wanted to try that too. Such was Hotaru, who liked cooking and was, together with the third daughter Haruka, in charge of the cooking.
Oh yeah, I wonder what’s keeping Haruka-chan. She said she would come help me cook the cake. I wanted her opinion on writing “Welcome Onii-chan” on the baked cake with a pink deco pen, if there is any room left…
“Happy Lucky Honeymoon♪ O mirror of Yuuna’s humble heart, show me the face of my dear brother~!” The one wearing a small skirt and making its frills spin as she herself spun around and around was an Elementary-school 3rd Year, the 11th daughter Yuuna. At her feet was a small heart shaped ‘mirror’ about 5cm in size, made out of cardboard and aluminum foil.
Forgetting her surroundings, Yuuna used her beloved stick of magic to cast a magic beam towards the mirror!
...At least, that was the idea. That was 15 seconds earlier.
Tick tick tick tic- she counted in her heart. Getting tired of waiting, she opened her eyes to take a peek at the mirror before the time was up. Yuuna was not very deft with her hands, and her creation barely reflected light, if anything at all, owing to the wrinkly surface of the aluminum foil.
“Ahh, it didn’t work after all.” Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten impatient and tried to sneak a peek after all…she thought a bit remorsefully.
Yuuna’s magic always fails because of small silly mistakes like this. I just wanted to see his face as soon as possible. Yuuna’s one and only Onii-chan. This is the first time Yuuna’s heard that she has a big brother. Just thinking about it made her heart beat faster. And that beat itself, was magic!
…At least, that was the idea.
Yes. As a matter of fact, Yuuna was actually the only descendant of a long line of mages in this house! At least, that was what Yuuna believed in unflinchingly. If Yuuna was a descendant, then wouldn’t that make her other sisters descendants of the same mages too? That line of thought, of course, didn’t cross Yuuna’s pure mind at all. That is because Yuuna was a mage! Her specialty was, of course, the magic that any girl would adore, love magic!
“Eeii!” Yuuna, who had been crouching down and peeking into the mirror of magic, stood up and fired herself up.
Once again, unifying my spirit! She clasped her hands in front of her chest and thought: Show me the face of my still unseen brother! My brother!
Wearing high-knee socks with bold stripes on them like a candy, she danced around on her toes.
Yes! Maybe the real Onii-chan appeared—
“I’m back! Hmm? What are you doing, Yuuna-chan?”
Yuuna was immediately disappointed.
Holding open the door to Yuuna’s room, which was also Fubuki and Seika’s room, was this household’s 10th daughter, Seika.
“I was just doing some magic.” Yuuna replied, inflating her cheeks in a cute way to express her displeasure. Seika was used to this scene and, making sure not to step on the weird thing—mirror that was on the floor, set down the thick books she was carrying on the desk. The top book in that pile of books was Seika’s most treasured book. The book that had been read again and again by many people all over the world, a book that was older than Seika herself, a three volume pale brown book. A book that was hailed as a masterpiece by both male and female readers. ‘The Three Kingdoms’ by Shibata Renzaburou. Her hair was tied up in a bun like a panda, and she was clad in a red and gold mini one piece from China and had a cheerful face. Seika was a huge ‘The Three Kingdoms’ fan.
“I see. I’m sorry if I interrupted your magic casting.” Seika, who was one year older than Yuuna, smoothly got rid of Yuuna’s worries as usual. “I just got back from getting a few books from the basement library. So, Yuuna-chan, I thought a little about what we heard in the morning. Our ‘Onii-chan’, what do you suppose he’s like?” She said, while gazing up at the ceiling, a bit embarrassed.
“I wonder if he looks like anyone from our family. I just can’t imagine it, since we don’t have any men in our house. That’s why I got to thinking. I guess if he’s like Hikaru-chan, he will resemble the fair skinned Koumei-san. Or he might be even more sturdy and reliable than I imagined like Kanu-sama, since he’s a guy after all. Or, or, who knows? He might be the nice, bright and funny type that would play with us, like Chouhi-sama. Or—” Her cheeks dyed bright pink, Seika was just rambling on and on now. Yuuna interrupted her by saying:
“I know! I know, right? That’s why Yuuna was trying her best to get Onii-chan’s face to appear on the mirror by using her magic…”
Yuuna explained her actions to her.
“Un. Seika would like to see him too.” Seika smiled wryly. “But, both Miharu Onee-chan and Mizore Onee-chan said that they didn’t have any photos, and we don’t have any other information either. I guess they want to keep it a surprise until we meet him.”
“Yuuna can’t bear it any longer, buuu!” Yuuna stamped her feet on the ground like a child.
“I mean, Yuuna has always wanted a big brother. I’m happy that I have a lot of big and little sisters, but Yuuna feels a bit bored sometimes. All our older sisters are now grown up, so they can do what they want, and the little ones like Sakura-chan and Mizuki-chan are pampered. But Yuuna is the 11th daughter and is in the middle, and no one treats her specially now. If I act a little bit selfishly, I get scolded that I’m the older one and have to be an example to the younger ones. And then, if I think “Okay, I’m the older one” and try to stay up a little late, I get scolded that I’m too young. That’s why, I’ve always wanted an Onii-chan that would be the most kind to me, who would praise me, and listen to anything I have to say, a brother just for me.” Yuuna said, with her face flushed red.
At times like this, Seika found Yuuna very cute, but also felt a bit jealous of her.
Yuuna-chan has it great, because she can be so true to her feelings and speak them out loud so easily. Of course, I also yearn for a big brother very much.
Because, much like Yuuna-chan, she was in the middle of the 19 sisters. She was in the 10th place, whether you counted from the bottom or the top. Just with that she had a half-baked position in the family. But not only that, she also had a little sister who was a bit of a natural airhead just one year younger than her, and ever since they were little, she had often looked after Yuuna. That’s why she couldn’t be very straightforward at times like these. In reality, she was also pretty excited about it. The Onii-chan she had always longed for. She didn’t particularly have any rivalry feelings, but she was pretty sure she had longed for an older brother much more than Yuuna-chan. Much like she felt for Ryuubi-sama, Koumei-sama, Shogun Kanu and Shogun Chouhi. When she heard that they had a brother for the first time, she didn’t believe it of course. But it’s strange.
It’s got to be a lie! I can’t believe it! This is too unexpected! Even though these kinds of thoughts were swirling in her head, in the depths of her heart…
…was happiness. Just that one feeling was overflowing.
If it’s with Onii-chan, Seika is sure she can talk about her feelings. Seika thought. And it would be nice if, as a little sister, she could teach her Onii-chan something. Her Onii-chan, who had always lived alone, separated from the rest of the family.
“Let’s try Yuuna’s magic one more time. This time, Seika will also help Yuuna-chan.” Hearing this, Yuuna jumped into the arms of a kindly smiling Seika.
“Really!? Yes! Thanks Seika-chan!! I’m sure it will go well this time, since Seika-chan is helping too. Onii-chan is amazing after all! I wonder if he’s handsome.”
The 5th daughter, Tsurara breathed a sigh of relief. The room was full of a heavy, sleepy atmosphere.
“They finally went to sleep…” It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Actually, the afternoon nap was supposed to be from 2 to 4 in the afternoon, but since it was a holiday, everyone had been too excited to go to sleep. This was the room of the girls in kindergarten, or simply White Room.
In the calm room where faint sun rays were coming in through the off-white curtains, the 14th daughter Mari, the 15th Mizuki, the 16th Sakura, the 17th Nijiko, and the 18th Sora were taking their afternoon nap. The afternoon nap was part of the daily routine of all the girls in kindergarten, that is, all of the girls younger than the 14th daughter, Mari. Usually, one of the sisters older than Hotaru accompanied the little girls to their afternoon nap on holidays, and Tsurara had almost never done it.
But today was special. It seemed that a big brother was coming today.
Haruka and Hotaru were busy preparing for that, so she had to look after the little ones.
Haaa? A “new brother”? What does that even mean? That’s what Tsurara seriously thought. A big brother, coming into a family afterwards? That’s not possible. Even Mizuki in kindergarten knows that such nonsense only happens in fairy tales. Isn’t it just idiotic? Her abusive thoughts continued. Tsurara was a Middle-school 2nd Year.
They say that one’s name often reveals the personality of the person, and this stood especially true for Tsurara. Her silver hair, as well as her cool outlook and a face that was well-featured more than anyone else in the house, all perfectly reflected her rather sharp personality. A personality that hated inconsistent and unreasonable things. She was at an age where everybody around her of the same age was always talking about ‘love’ and ‘boyfriends’ or what-not, but in all honesty Tsurara wasn’t very interested in boys. That was partly because the moderately popular Konohana Private Academy that Tsurara went to had been originally a girl’s only school, and had only recently became a co-ed school, so she didn’t have many boys around her. But it was mostly because to Tsurara, boys looked like pretty worthless creatures, let alone potential love partners. They laughed at worthless gags, and they did worthless things like betting their lives on a can of milkshake at lunch time. They read and laughed loudly at worthless manga, and collected worthless cards. Tsurara couldn’t make any sense of it.
How come they can get so serious about such things? I swear men are just worthless beings. Tsurara was different from Urara, who among the sisters had a severe dislike for men. Tsurara just didn’t have enough time to deal with such worthless creatures.
Tsurara was pretty smart. She had done well in her studies ever since she was little.
All she had to was look at a textbook once, and somehow she remembered all of it. Of course, she worked hard too. She didn’t hate her studies, and if she got good grades she was praised, which made her happy. And besides, she had gained a goal to work towards in recent years. Ever since Tsurara heard of the illness— her cute sister Watayuki’s illness, she dreamed of becoming a medical scientist. Yes, so that she could find a cure for her sister’s illness, which was said to be incurable by modern medicine, Tsurara was going to give a test for a special advanced class this February. That class was known for its high level, and if she was able to enroll in that class, her acceptance into a high-class university was pretty much guaranteed. That’s how important that test was. If she passed, she would be a special Advance student by April, and would have taken a solid step towards her dream. At such an important time…
“A new brother!”
I said, what does that even mean? I don’t have a clue what Miharu Ane-sama and the others are thinking! She thought. If they really think about me, then they should be a little bit more considerate.
Dissatisfaction rose in her chest. Tsurara was weak to change. It was like something unknown was going to befall her soon, and it was like she could see the signs of dark clouds forming over her head.
NoNoNo! That’s wrong, you idiot! That can’t be right at all! She desperately denied it.
Okay then. Even if a “newly made brother” or some idiotic creature like that comes here, I don’t care. It has nothing to do with me. That’s all I have to think. Fortunately, we have 19 sisters in this house, and I have a lot of little sisters who will become excited and say “Welcome Onii-chan!” Even if I ignore him, I won’t stand out much.
Hm. That’s right! That population of this house is a bit too much, so all I have to do is to think that a servant is coming. Yes, I will make good use of him. If I think a servant is coming, it doesn’t make me so mad either. “A big brother”, like I will believe in such a thing!
Finally, the sun setting.
“Is it finally the time for Onii-chan to arrive?” That was the 13th daughter, Watayuki. She looked outside the brightly lit window which had become a shade of dark blue, and said in a slightly nervous voice. As her body was weak, she was sitting the corner of the living room where a special oven-like space had been installed for her. In the center of the room was a huge bed on which Watayuki spent most of her time. Since it was the living room, one or two of her sisters was constantly going in and out, so she didn’t feel particularly lonely.
It’s completely different to when I was in the hospital... She would often think with warm sentiments in her heart towards her sisters.
“The winter solstice of this year is already past, and today sunset will occur at 16:34. His arrival was announced to be around 5:00 PM, so if on time, he should be arriving in another 30 minutes.” Lifting her head, the 12th daughter Fubuki replied, sitting with her back against the end of the bed on which Watayuki lay down, her long hair spreading all over. She had a huge picture book spread out in front of her.
“Ufufu~. It sure is exciting isn’t it? Hey, what do you think he’s like, Fubuki-chan?” As Watayuki asked happily, Fubuki made a troubled face.
“Even if you ask me that, given the lack of information and conditions, for now I have no idea myself. The ones welcoming him to our house are none other than our elder sisters, so I guess that he won’t be too barbaric. That said mutation in the genes is a possibility that always exists. Especially if the characteristics of the male-specific Y chromosome appear, I have no way of knowing what will happen, because that chromosome doesn’t exist in us sisters. What is really interesting is that is if there are any prominent features related to the male-specific hormones, such as testosterone, which is a known cause of aggression, or…”
This time it was Watayuki’s turn to make a troubled face. The two sisters who had received a name with “Snow” in it had this one difference. Fubuki, who was already enrolled in Elementary-school, and Watayuki, who was to be enrolled in 4 months’ time, both had quiet personalities and often spent time together in this room. For Watayuki, it was because she had a weak body and needed to rest as much as possible. And for Fubuki, who was really mature for her age and a little unusual in her thought process, it was because she spent most of her time quietly reading a book.
Fubuki was born with a pale complexion, and her eyes were weak. As if shielding her eyes from the afterglow of the orange sunset that had finally disappeared, she looked outside the window with squinted eyes and whispered. “But still…” All expression disappeared from Fubuki’s pale face. “I wonder what they mean by ‘a new brother’.”
Waving around her soft looking and long mohair-wool-like hair, Watayuki laughed and tilted her small neck. “It means exactly that. As Miharu Onee-chan explained, they found our brother who had been separated from us for all this time…”
Ever since Watayuki had heard of her big brother, she couldn’t help but feel happy and overjoyed. That’s because she also had always wanted a ‘big brother’. Of course, she knew that it was impossible for a bigger brother to come afterwards, so she had given up. But sometimes, the thought came to her unawares. Especially when she was suffering from fever and pain all alone in the middle of the night in the hospital room—
Ahh, if only I had a kind big brother here right now, he would hold my hand and cheer me on. Not only that, but if he would grant my wish, and take me home just like this, how great that would be… Living in the hospital room with nothing to do except read picture books, the Watayuki of that time had somewhere along the way overlapped her own wishes and dreams with that of a ‘Big brother’.
And now, it turned out that Watayuki actually had a big brother she always longed for. And one that was going to live with them in this house from now on. And she also thought her brother pretty pitiable, since they were supposed to have lived together in this house, but only he had been separated from all of them, all alone. Ah, my poor, poor Onii-chan. I’m sure I’m the one who understands his feelings the most! Because— because I too experienced it when I was in the hospital, all alone. I even had a home and family that was always wishing for my return, Onii-chan didn’t even have that.
Watayuki knew. Probably more than any of her sisters, she knew how hard and lonely it was being all alone. She knew that the sadness of being alone was sometimes so much that tears would involuntary start spilling from her eyes.
That’s why, when Onii-chan comes home, I’ll be as kind and cheerful as I can. Watayuki vowed in her heart. She had overcome her disease, and came home safely in this restful state and had been treated kindly by all of her sisters. This time, it was her turn to treat her brother kindly and cheer him up.
“Fufufu~.” Watayuki was very happy that she had found something that even she could do.
“But, that person…is he really our sibling?” Fubuki said suddenly.
Eh? What was this about?
“I ran the simulation many times, but for us sisters the chance of a brother —or any other sibling for that fact— existing is close to zero.” Fubuki placed a finger on her forehead and continued. “We are all a total of 19 sisters, with 1 year gap between us all. That alone is pretty abnormal, but considering the reproduction system of mammals, that isn’t too improbable. But there is no more room for another sibling to be born between us. If he was older than Miharu-nee, I would understand that, but for him to be the same as age as Hikaru-nee…” Suddenly, her movements stopped, as if a switch had been turned off.
“I apologize. The possibilities amount to three.” Fubuki regained her movement, and continued with her normal expression.
“The first possibility: That he is the twin brother of Hikaru-nee. The second possibility: That the fact that he is our brother of the same age as Hikaru-nee is a mistake of some sort. The third possibility: The person named Hikaru-nee is…”
Fubuki stopped subtly at the last one. Watayuki didn’t understand so she ended up asking.
“What does that—?”
“The fact that someone from within us sisters is not our real sister…”
The room became silent. And then, the second daughter, Mizore walked in.
“Ahh, Fubuki, so this is where you were.” Seemingly having returned from where ever she had gone, she set down the cloak she had been wearing from her shoulder, and slicked back her short-cut hair.
“Finally, he is here.” She said as she grinned.
Youtarou was standing before a gate.
He was standing in front of a house that was bigger than anything he had imagined. He had heard that the site of the house was unbelievably huge. Youtarou couldn’t imagine an area larger than 150 to 300 square meters. A normal 4.5 tatami room measured about 3 square meters. This was in a different league altogether. Was this really a house? The Amatsuka house looked like some kind of tourist attraction rather than a house for living in.
“What’s wrong?” Hikaru asked peering at his face filled with disbelief.
After cleaning up the room, Hikaru had left Haruka at the kitchen so that she could help Hotaru and came to the gate to wait for Youtarou.
“Ah…ahh…” What should I say? “I was a little surprised, is all…” Somehow he got those words out. On the other side of the gate, there was a path leading up to the façade. Thinking about what was waiting for him at the end of that path made him a little squeamish. All he had heard was that there were ‘a lot’ of sisters. Just by looking at this mansion, he could imagine what kind of luxurious lives they lead. Would they really accept him? His nervousness was increasing by the second. He heard a small voice at his side.
“Don’t think about unnecessary things, you idiot.” He felt a push at his back. “Let’s go!”
The impatient looking Hikaru forcefully pulled him along by the arm. The heavy looking gate slid apart without a sound. Like Moses parting the sea. And then it slid closed without a sound behind them. The sea that had been split apart became flooded with water, and there was no going back now.
The gate is electric operated…Being rich sure is great.
Early that morning, Hikaru had visited Youtarou in his apartment, and had helped him pack his belongings.
His apartment was a 2DK, and was in a seedy building that looked like it had been built in the 1950s. He had told her that she didn’t have to come in, but she had quickly entered without saying anything, and had busily started packing his things on her own. It seemed like she didn’t like the room’s untidy look one bit. Carry only what is absolutely necessary, and put the things that can be delivered later into a box, she said as she started piling things from the shelf and other crap into the cardboard box without giving them a second glance.
Meanwhile Youtarou somehow found the sports bag he had used for his school trip, and avoiding Hikaru’s line of sight, turned his back and quickly started packing things he didn’t want Hikaru to touch, such as his clothes or underwear. When Hikaru saw him packing things such as a bath towel and a shampoo, she interrupted him.
“You’re not going on trip, so there is no need for that. You can use the ones at our house. Also, it’s winter vacation from today, so you can leave your school things here too. You don’t look at your books during vacation anyway, right?” Hikaru laughed in amusement.
Oh yeah, this is not a trip…
Looking over the room, Youtarou’s shoulders drooped a bit. Looking at the album that was lying on the floor, Youtarou thought: From tomorrow on— no, from tonight, a different life is waiting for me. If I think about it carefully, the memories of everything in this room are something I want to hold close as I live. His gaze naturally fell on the impromptu altar that was placed on top of the Japanese chest of drawers. Grandma’s portrait smiled back at him.
Youtarou was going to leave this house for good. For some reason, he felt a little remorseful. It was too sudden a development. But even if he stayed in the house, it wasn’t like Grandma was going to come back.
“She seems like a kind Grandmother.” Hikaru said.
“Un.” He replied. “I had lost my parents really early, so she was really affectionate with me…” His voice wavered. This is bad. Don’t cry, me. “She was a really great person.” Saying that he turned his back to Hikaru, and pressed down on the inner corner of his eyes. Don’t. Don’t look this way.
And then…He felt a soft sensation, and his back suddenly became warm.
“It must have been hard.” He was being hugged. Hikaru hugged Youtarou tightly from behind, as if she was holding a small boy in her arms. Her voice seemed awfully close. “I also wanted to meet your Grandmother.” Her warm words passed through her chest and reverberated warmly. Youtarou became nervous thinking that Hikaru could hear his heartbeat.
“If I was your Grandmother, I’m sure I wouldn’t have wanted to leave you all alone and go somewhere.”
And then, for a while, both of them became silent.
For a moment he hesitated, and then saying “Sorry, I’m alright now!” he quickly rubbed his eyes, and freed himself from Hikaru’s arms that were wound tightly around him. Hikaru held her body still. Her eyes held sympathy, and she approached him.
Th-This feels bad. After the events of yesterday, Youtarou couldn’t predict the behavior of the overly defenseless Hikaru. She was approaching him from the front now.
Is this…Hikaru brought her face close.
Is this…And then she silently placed her hand on his chin.
I-If this continues, I might get kissed. As Youtarou reflexively jumped back, Hikaru said: “A beard grows on men after all”. Still staring at his chin, Hikaru continued. “You might want to put a shaving kit in your bag, because we don’t have on at home.” And then, she laughed as if she was relived at having noticed that important bit.
He got a premonition of many difficulties ahead.
Crossing the path through the front yard, they reached the front door on which a small board was hanging. On it the words “WELCOME TO YOUR HOME” were written in pale pink ink, and colorful flowers made with lace ribbons and thin paper were attached to it, along with hand-painted bears, pandas and elephants.
Youtarou was fidgeting. It was finally time to see what was on the other side of the door. He suddenly became unable to relax. Hikaru tapped Youtarou’s shoulder.
“It’s gonna be fine. It’s not like there’s anything scary in there.”
I’m not really scared, it’s just— Okay, I am scared. I’m freaking out, actually. Youtarou swallowed the saliva that had gathered in his mouth. As soon as he placed his hand on the double doors, the door opened inwards.
Panpanpaaan! The crackers went off with loud sounds.
“Welcome back, our Onii-chan! Thank you very much for returning to us!” The unanimous shouting of the cute girls resounded. Through all the cheering and confetti dancing through the air, he couldn’t see in front of him clearly.
“Well then, to celebrate Onii-chan’s return, I’ll sing a song!” The descendant of mages, the 11th daughter Yuuna cleared her throat. “One, two…!”
♪Today is the day Onii-chan came home
Let’s all get together and say congrats
It’s a happy, happy, happy day
Let’s all clap a few times! ♪
Everyone clapped their hands along with the song, and then one by one came forward and endless self-introductions suddenly began.
“First, the eldest daughter, Miharu. I work as a Weather Reporter.” Ah, it’s the person that was with Hikaru last night at the Entertainment Company. Her kind aura and soft looking hair were the same as they were the last time they met.
“The second daughter, Mizore. You and I are both dust of the same Universe, so let’s get along.” Mizore, with her short-cut hair and grownup atmosphere, spoke a little brusquely.
“Third, the cooking in-charge, Haruka! Welcome, our Ouji-sama-Kyun! ♥”
Holding the hem of her long skirt Haruka bowed like she was on the stage, and looked very girlish. The pink one piece and the frilly apron she was wearing suited her perfectly.
“Four, the fourth daughter, Hikaru.” Hikaru had not clapped along with the rhythm of the song at all, and she just said what she had to. As soon as they had entered the house, it had seemed like her smile had decreased a little, and it seemed pretty surprising to Youtarou.
“Fifth, also in charge of cooking, Hotaru! I’m very happy to have met Onii-chan.” This time it was Hotaru. She had a large ribbon tied on top of her bob-hair, was fair-skinned, and had soft looking cheeks.
“Sixth— Er, skipping that, Seven! The always energetic Rikka!” She spun around once, causing her mini-skirt to flutter. Bakyun! She took a pose and shot Youtarou with her finger.
It was one colorful girl after another.
What was this?
Was his ‘Sound of Music’?
Or was it ‘Do-Re-Mi Song’?
The movie he had seen during the music class came back to him. Youtarou became a little dizzy. His vision became hazy.
Ah. Now that he thought about it, he hadn’t eaten any breakfast because he was in a hurry. And he hadn’t had any lunch either because he was busy packing his stuff.
And then, once again in two days, Youtarou collapsed, covered in golden cheers. As his consciousness faded, he felt a kind of soft and bouncy feeling, but for better or worse, Youtarou had no memory of that particular moment. But, when he woke up this time, he felt that that before anything else he just had to eat something, and was taken to the dining hall so huge he couldn’t even have imagined it before, where a welcome party was being held.
He had meant it to be a small sigh, but his voice echoed and caused Youtarou to panic. He glanced around and checked his surroundings. Phew, there was nobody around. But he felt a bit unnerved anyways. One couldn’t blame him, he was completely naked. He looked down, and checked his weak-looking body. But he had to be naked in a bath, right?
Youtarou was in the bathroom. The bathroom of this house was huge. The bath tub, if it could be called that, was the size a small inn would have. There were three showers attached. To Youtarou, it was like the sea. Although being in such a grand bath felt good, he just couldn’t calm down.
Isn’t it a little too big to enter alone? The thought entered Youtarou’s head without warning, and he hurriedly got rid of it. No no no no. Taking a bath alone is the best.
“Haaa~.” This time he went all out and sighed loudly. And then with a splash he jumped backwards and sprawled on his back in the bath.
You can’t do this in a public house bath after all. Steam rose from the huge bath. Ahh that was a long Welcome Party. One girl after another had kept popping out. Even so, 19 sisters. As he had heard before, they really were “enough to sell”. He remembered the scene from the party. Since Youtarou had only seen Hikaru before that, it was a pretty shocking scene.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. Even counting them on his fingers took so long.
When they were lined up in a line, there was no other way to describe it as except as spectacular. But when the party started and they all jumbled together…It was overwhelming. They were even livelier than he had ever imagined the sisters of Hikaru to be, and the overwhelmed Youtarou had honestly not been able to even comprehend all of them when he first met them. Especially the younger ones were all colorful and unique, very impressive children.
For example, the girl who was known as the reincarnation of Marie Antoinette, the 14th daughter Mari, or the girl that was said to able to see the aura of people, the 15th daughter Mizuki, clad in a traditional Shrine-maiden dress. There was also the timid cry baby, the 16th daughter Sakura, the precocious 17th daughter Nijiko, the energetic 18th daughter Sora who looked like she had come out from ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, and finally the round, baby daughter who couldn’t even stand yet, Asahi.
But to be honest, Youtarou was feeling like he had been finally freed. From attending the party he had fully realized that he was welcome here, but between the cheers, the cake, the songs, the self-introductions…It had all felt like a flood really, and he didn’t remember much of it.
He stretched one more time in the hot water. And then he realized. Oh yeah, I guess they need a bath room this big because usually a few of them would enter together.
All 19 sister. Even if they divided up into groups of 4, that would still be 5 groups. And even if 1 group took 30 minutes that would be total bath time of 2 and a half hours.
That’s amazing! A huge family is amazing! Youtarou felt a great weight on his shoulders after realizing this bit of information, and dipped the lower part of his face into the water. It was plain fun to breathe out and watch as bubbles come out of his nose.
It was at that time.
Kararara. A light sound came from the door as someone entered the bathroom. Youtarou’s back stiffened.
Th-this situation is…! Suppressing the urge to see who had entered, he stealthily turned his back towards the entrance.
It’ll be troubling for the person if they are seen before they see me. The intruder still hadn’t noticed his presence. Now he could hear the shower being turned on.
This is bad.
This is very bad.
Panicking, Youtarou quickly started thinking about the family members who had a possibility of coming into the bath at this time. The smaller children seemed like they had already taken a bath before the party, so he counted them out. The time now was almost 9 PM.
I guess I can also count out the Elementary-school team too, yes. If that’s the case, I think that all the children younger than the lively twin tailed Rikka were in Elementary School, so.
As he was feeling a little relieved that the scope of possible members had become a little narrower, he realized.
The sisters older than that include the moody and strong willed Tsurara —What a befitting name!—, and the kind looking Hotaru who had baked the cake, and then the sweet Haruka-san whose pink one piece suited her rather too well and who didn’t seem older than me at all, and also the mature and cool type Mizore and the eldest Miharu too! Wouldn’t it actually have been less of a problem if it was a younger sister?
And then he thought: Problem? Wait, if I think about it carefully, isn’t the fact that I’m taking a bath here a problem in itself? Ahh, what did I do to get myself into this predicament?
As he was thinking these useless thoughts, the sound of the shower stopped.
Crap. She’s coming. What do I do!? Even if he thought that, there was almost nothing he could do. In that moment, all he could think about was that he could somehow remain hidden in the steam rising from the hot water.
But something like that won’t work like it does in a manga—
“Who’s there!?” A sharp voice rang through the bathroom.
He stood up noisily from the hot water, and keeping his red face downcast and his back to the person behind him, he said hurriedly: “I’m-I’m sorry. I was earlier told by Mizore-san that it was almost time for the bath to be empty, so I could go ahead and enter, so…”
I think that was a good enough excuse, even for me.
“Oh what? It’s just you.”
Eh? Get out!!!...That’s what he had been expecting to hear. But this voice was clearly relieved. The owner of the voice even entered into tub.
“I see you were deceived by Mizore-nee. Kukuku.” It seemed like whomever it was found this really funny and snorted. The owner of that voice was…
“You don’t have to be that stiff. You can turn around.” It was Hikaru. He stiffened some more.
“N-no, well, even if you tell me to turn around…”
“Ah. Oh yeah, sorry. Well, I am covering my front for what’s it worth…Well, you can remain turned away then.” She said, seemingly without a care.
I’m glad that she is at least a little bit self-aware. For some reason, Youtarou was relieved.
“I’m always running at this time.” He didn’t understand her sudden words. “No, well, it’s just that I’m jogging or training at this time every day. And after that, I get in the bath to wash of the sweat. So Mizore-nee probably forgot about that…” As Hikaru moved, he could hear the sound of water churning. “Or she remembered and planned this to happen…”
She planned it!?
Kukuku. Hikaru snorted again, as if she couldn’t hold it back.
“She looks aloof, but she has surprisingly mischievous side to her. I’m sure she wanted to see your troubled expression.”
Ah, there’s such a troublesome person in this house!?
Youtarou recalled the face of the second daughter Mizore that he had just met in the corridor earlier. With her short-cut hair and calm demeanor, which was refreshing, she seemed very easy to talk with. If he remembered correctly, during her self-introduction, she had said: “You and I both are just fleeting particles of dust in this universe, so as particles of dust more meaningless than grains of sand, let’s get along.” Hearing that, he had been a bit surprised. But in this house full of gorgeous girls, he had felt that she was relativity easier to approach. That’s why when he was on his way back to his room, and she had called out to him and worried about his bath, he had felt a bit happy. At that time, the reliable Hikaru had disappeared somewhere.
“Nobody has shown you around yet? Sorry about that, I was sure Hikaru had…Hm. That’s right. It’s the right time, so you can go ahead and use the bath. Today was tiring wasn’t it? I’m sure you can relax in there.”
I wonder if I don’t have what it takes to judge people. As Youtarou was standing around depressed, hot water splashed on his bottom.
“Don’t just stand around, get in again. Isn’t your butt cold?”
He panicked and threw himself in the tub. Because of that, a wave rose in the tub.
“Bubuhu, idiot, don’t sit with such force— gohohohohu!!” Hikaru began choking.
“Ah! S-Sorry!” He was worried about her, and turned back without thinking. What came floating into his vision, was the image of Hikaru surrounded by white, soft looking steam. Her long hair was wet with water and swept to one side, while her body was…
Are you alright? The hand he had reached out to her stopped in midair. In front of his fingers was the choking Hikaru’s white body. With all the steam flying around, he couldn’t see very well, but the towel that was supposed to have been covering her front was now swimming in the water.
Uwaah! At this rate, I’m going to see everything! While coughing, Hikaru stretched out her hand as if she was asking for help. Coughing, she had left her body defenseless. Hearing her cough that hard, Youtarou also became panicked.
What should I do? Do I help her? But if I do that...!
His body wouldn’t move. His head was spinning again.
“Gohou! Eh!? Youtarou!?” As Hikaru cried out, there was a huge splash and that sound was the last thing that remained in his mind.
“Really, I think this guy has a bad habit of falling unconscious whenever he sees my face.” Hikaru said, looking at Youtarou’s face. Trying her best not to look anywhere improper, she had somehow dragged Youtarou out from the tub, and rolled him to the sofa of the undressing room. She gently set a wet towel on his forehead.
I thought it was such a great opportunity, I could ask him all about what he thought of our family… She thought, a bit lonely. There was a huge bath towel covering Youtarou’s body. Hikaru herself was also wearing a bath towel.
She remembered today’s welcome party. As per Mama and Miharu-nee’s plan, introducing Youtarou as a long lost brother was a success. Sakura and Watayuki for example, and all other younger sisters had always admired the older brother figure, were from the start in “Youtarou Most Welcome” mode, but not only them but also some of the older ones, such as Rikka, who would soon be in Middle-school, Hotaru and even Haruka, who was the third daughter, seemed like they all had lots of love for Youtarou. For all that, Hikaru was relived.
But, she was somehow discontented, something that she could not express in words.
After seeing Miharu introduce Youtarou to everyone.
After seeing Miharu force Urara to participate in the cheer, Urara who had started treating Youtarou like a manservant.
After seeing Hotaru and Haruka aggressively but happily taking care of all of Youtarou’s eating needs.
Even though she was the one who had brought him here.
Even though she was supposed to be special to him, even among all her other sisters.
Of course, those cries within her heart were too faint for even Hikaru herself to hear. That’s why right now, all alone with Youtarou, looking at his face, she felt a bit at ease. A smile came to her lips naturally. “Fufufu~.”
She gently wiped the small beads of sweat that appeared on Youtarou’s face. He was really popular with the younger ones and had been made to play all sorts of games with them at the party, so he hadn’t spoken much. Well, that was fine too.
Hikaru had a simple personality. She talked to Youtarou within her heart. In this house with 19 sisters, she had always felt that there was a need for an elder son. But today, that feeling had been confirmed.
I guess I can’t fulfill that role after all. No matter how strong I become, no matter how much I train my body. Everyone, all of them, they didn’t want a boyish sister like me. Not a half-baked person like me, but a real, genuine brother, that’s what they wanted. That’s why, I’m glad you are here. For some reason, as soon as I saw your face, I knew this is how things were going to turn out. What do they call this, fate? It’s just like Haruka said. Maybe you are the real elder son of this house. If that were the case, then I…
At that, she fell in thought. Am I just trying to pass on my duty? But the simple minded Hikaru couldn’t really make sense of what that implied.
Well, I guess it’s all going to be fine. I better bring some cold water. Hikaru, who had dressed, got up. As she opened the door to go to the kitchen, she found Mizore standing in the corridor, grinning.
“Something happen?” She asked.
“Youtarou collapsed in the hot water, so I was going to go get him some water.”
“I see. In the hot water.” Mizore loosened her mouth.
“Mizore-nee?” Hikaru asked.
“What is it?”
“Did you know that I was going jogging today—?”
“Ahh, now that you mention it, I totally forgot about that. Did you meet Youtarou in the bath? Did something interesting— I mean, troublesome happen?”
“Uh-un. Nothing much.” Hikaru’s reply was a little too quick.
“That’s good then.” Mizore peeked inside the dressing room. “Ah, he’s completely out of it, isn’t he?”
“That’s right. I can’t carry him all alone.”
“I’ll help too. He’s probably tired, so let’s let him sleep for today.”
“Ah, but I’m worried that he’ll become dehydrated like this. He doesn’t seem very nourished to begin with.”
“I see. So the water first then.”
“I’ll go get some.”
Hikaru headed off to the kitchen after that conversation. Mizore watched her with an amused face as she went. Mizore was a believer of Armageddon, and in front of The End of the Universe, nothing had much more value than space dust. But, watching those small particles clash with one another like electrons in a small box was quite entertaining nonetheless.