AntiMagic Academy's infirmary provided practically everything. It was obvious, the students here suffered injuries more often than students of normal schools. The equipment in the infirmary even if it wasn't perfect, it was proficient enough to the extent of being able to perform minor surgeries.
"...she's all right for now, we can be relieved. But she's really a girl who makes others worry."
Ikaruga lightly stroked Usagi who was sleeping in bed, she had a dreamy expression on her face.
"I was surprised that she collapsed as well... does this kind of thing happen frequently?"
Mari who stared at Usagi anxiously while sitting on a stool asked Ikaruga and Takeru.
"Although it happened a few times in high school, it's the first time for it to be this bad."
It seemed to have happened often in middle school too. But they didn't know much about Usagi from that time, they've heard she fainted in one of the female toilets before.
"I see... Usagi chan was with you for only half a year right. It feels as if something happened recently..."
Mari twisted around and looked up at the ceiling while exploring her memories.
Takeru too had quite a few ideas about what might've caused it. Over a period of several months since the Hero attack there was a series of harsh events. It was not impossible for that to be the cause, and the fact that she was involved couldn't be denied.
"After the incident with Alchemist she's been a bit depressed. We should have called out to her."
Ikaruga reflected on it while messing with Usagi's hair.
"This girl... she was always good at hiding her real feelings from me."
"...is that so? I feel like she's the easiest one to see through."
Mari tilted her neck. Ikaruga put a hand on her own chin.
"What she is good at, is quite different from what you said. To be exact, she's been always forcing herself like that and it became common, so when it becomes the real deal it's hard to tell. Also, she might have been in this state the entire time."
"I can understand that somehow. She's always acting frantic, that Usagi-chan."
"She's not doing that for kicks, she's always serious. We always end up causing trouble to her. She has more patience than anyone, but Usagi's also weaker than anyone."
"Oh... I thought it's her personality, I didn't know that at all. I'm sorry, Usagi-chan."
Tears appeared in Mari's eyes.
"It's probably something that has to do with her home as well."
As Ikaruga spoke out her prediction, Mari showed great interest.
"She's a humble young lady?"
"Saionji house has ties with Inquisition. Her father seems to be one of higher ups in Inquisition Board. Because it's a superior family, I think she has undergone harsh education. I can imagine she grew up under tremendous pressure ever since she was small. Though, I can't say whether that's really true or not."
"So even Suginami didn't hear anything about her house huh."
"I won't ask her unless she tells me herself. I also had a lot of things I didn't want others to know... but well, because of certain people it's been exposed. I'm bad with things like these."
Although her words sounded cold, Ikaruga was concerned. Even if they were comrades, there are matters they shouldn't stick their noses into.
Takeru wasn't good at grasping the distance between him and the others. Since it was insensitive and depressing for them to butt in, they would only watch in silence unless something serious happened.
However, this time he felt it was something serious.
"...before collapsing, Usagi was talking with the Witch-Hunting festival executive committee chairman."
"The one who held a speech about Witch-Hunting festival being held?"
"Yeah... it seems like he and Usagi are relatives, childhood friends."
Takeru remembered how he stopped Reima and muttered that.
Ikaruga showed a reaction.
"Tenmyouji Reima eh. Tenmyouji is the name of the ethics committee's chairman."
"? Is that so?"
"Yeah, He's probably the Chairman's son. I don't know of any other relatives, then... a childhood friend..."
"But aren't the ethics committee and Inquisition Board like oil and water...?"
"The committee is quite a significant organization, but they're not really at odds. The Ethics committee is objecting against witch discrimination and Inquisition adapts depending on their opinion, the ethics committee has no intention of taking down the Inquisition. Both of them have something the other needs, they were originally the same organization."
"I didn't know that... Suginami really is well oriented in the situation between the organizations."
"...Kusanagi, you... even elementary school students know about the current affairs."
Even Mari said "Even I know that..." with an amazed look on her face.
The Ethics Committee was originally Inquisition's auditing office made by up by part of the higher-echelons, an organization launched for the sake of advocating for the witches, it wasn't a separate organization at the beginning.
A mechanism, monitoring witch trials. In fact, it was an organization monitoring Inquisition.
Mari heard about the ethics committee and made a complex smile.
"Inquisition is black, but that place is also dangerous. I'm a witch but I don't know the circumstances inside of it. It isn't just Ootori Ouka's opinion, but are they seeking equality or preferential treatment for witches? Honestly, having so many people complaining that witches need more rights, it's unsettling."
"I guess. Giving power to an organization made up on a single philosophy is quite naive."
Although Takeru didn't know about the politics much, he was surprised that Reima who's from the Ethics Committee side was attending AntiMagic Academy.
"The heir of Tenmyouji family has enrolled in the school probably to change Inquisition from inside. If he was the student council president of the branch school, he must've been quite outstanding."
"Or he has connections."
"I can't deny that possibility."
"Keke, just like a certain despicable woman. Also, what is Ootori Ouka doing right now?! While Usagi-chan is in such state!"
Mari blamed Ouka while pouting.
So Takeru told her what the was situation with Ouka.
"I couldn't contact her. She seemed to have been called to the student council, I can't really disturb her now."
"Student council? Hmm, I wonder what's more important, the student council or Usagi-chan."
"No, I was the one who hasn't contacted her... I think she would come over at once if I did."
He made a wry smile and scratched his cheek.
Because Takeru thought so, he didn't contact Ouka. It wasn't anything life-threatening and Usagi wasn't about to wake up anytime soon. He thought that if they worried about her too much, Usagi wouldn't be able to handle it.
Just, he thought that she will yell at them for remaining silent, and she would probably come over even if it happened at night. That's what Takeru thought.
That's when a Seelie opened the curtains and looked inside.
"You guys are still here. When Saionji wakes up I'll send her home, so hurry up and go back."
The female Seelie withdrew and closed the curtain behind her. Taking a light breath Ikaruga stood up from the chair.
"You two, let's go back for today. Once she wakes up Usagi will definitely come to our room."
"Isn't it fine to stay in school because of the preparations for the Witch-Hunting festival?"
"There's still a lot to do. We're going to work hard starting from tomorrow, get a good rest."
Ignoring Ikaruga's creepy smile Mari checked the time on the clock.
The day was coming to an end.
"I'd like to stay together, but I have to go and participate in an experiment with summoning magical organisms, and you Takeru?"
"I have a part time now but I wanted to at least stay until she wakes up..."
Takeru tried to stand up, and that's when someone pulled his sleeve.
Although she was asleep, Usagi was grabbing Takeru's clothes.
"Ara ara, you're being really loved."
"Yeah... when she wakes up, I'll take her home."
"Then, why don't you two stay in my room? Having the first experience with the three of us together, that's so immortal and makes me horny——"
"I have the part time job to do! I have no time to bother with you!"
Takeru retorted against her obscene speculations
Mari directed a gaze full of suspicion at Takeru.
"...you're not going to do anything lewd to the sleeping Usagi-chan will you?"
"I won't! Do I look like a guy who would do that?"!"
"Is there anything you want to say!!"
While Takeru was desperate and misunderstood, the two opened the curtains as they joked.
"Then I'll leave it to you. We came over since we were worried after hearing that, also, I feel responsible for this girl too. It's fine to do erotic things, but if you intend to do it contact me first, I'll be recording it with my phone——"
"I won't forgive you if you do anything naughty! If you do, I'll make you regret it!"
The two of them pointed at him and said so, Takeru couldn't even make a wry smile any more.
He was left alone with Usagi in the hospital room, he gazed at her sleeping face again.
Takeru didn't know what was she hiding behind that peaceful sleeping expression. Although her excessive breathing that came from tension disappeared, it didn't wipe out the other possibilities.
Usagi's frightened expression and Reima's words.
They were haunting him.
"...Mephistopheles, is it? I've heard about him..."
Ouka frowned with a bit of a shocked expression.
Nagaru expected that reaction and smiled wryly.
"It's a presence known to the world as an urban legend. They say it's a witch who eats hearts, a devil that seizes souls. And there is no one who has seen its figure... for anyone who've seen it died after having their soul eaten."
"If that witch really existed, and was attempting to dominate this school right now, what would Ouka-chan do?"
Nagaru stared at Ouka curiously.
Ouka closed her eyes and shook her head.
"Excuse me, but this is ridiculous."
"Is that so? If you say that, then that would mean magic existing in this world would also be something ridiculous. Don't you think it's weird as well〜"
"...since a rumor like that exists, there might be a magic similar to what's described. However, the concept of soul hasn't been clarified yet and there is no magic that can detach a soul from its vessel. There is no such thing as the spiritual body. These are just assumptions, there is no way to interfere with the souls of others."
"...I wonder if that really is so—"
Hearing Nagaru's comment, Ouka narrowed her eyes sharply.
"What does Ouka-chan think about possession magic?"
"............ Again talking about fairy tales. Possession magic was said to be used by magical organisms called "Devils". The nature of that magic is too different from that of a human witch, it's usage is impossible. Even if a devil were to be successfully summoned, the only one capable of using possession magic would be the devil, and not the witch itself."
Typically, summoning magic performed by witches contacts a different dimension, a different world or phase and allows them to call magical organisms by forming a contract and giving them magic in exchange. Magical organisms did appear in this world in the past, but they generally live in a different world.
Animal souls, human souls, fairies, spirits, hero souls, fantastic souls, angels, devil, divinities.
The easiest one to summon from, is that which uses the phase of a world that's relatively close, the one which houses human souls.
Mari's Belladonna Garden come from the fairy realm.
Also, in the first place they couldn't appear in this world alone and needed the caster's magical power at all times, a sacrifice was required.
Therefore higher level summons like "Hero Summoning" and "Legend Summoning" required huge sacrifices.
Although lesser beings could be summoned. Devils and Angels, as well as Gods' summoning "Myth Summoning" was impossible unless the world itself was sacrificed. The circumstances surrounding the world those organisms live in, haven't been clarified yet. Also, witches that use summoning magic have a relationship of give and take with the organisms and aren't constantly in contact with them.
Therefore, magic used by magical organisms couldn't be understood by humans. There was many examples of that.
"As usual, you're really knowledgeable. However〜, you should be more open minded〜. Unfortunately, the witch that uses possession magic is real."
It's an unique magic that allows fixing a soul into the bodies of others used by Devils. It's commonly called demonic possession or spirit possession correspondingly. The person on whom this magic is used on is tainted with the devil's soul and it results with his own soul being eaten.
What remains, is a body in which a different soul from its original dwells, a monster wearing a human skin.
However, just like Ouka said, it was a magic humans could not use.
"In fact, we've been fighting with that guy recently."
Ouka didn't believe in such an unreasonable story, but she decided to shut up and listen.
"My subordinates who were following a B-class Magical Heritage were attacked by him, one person's body was taken over and everyone else was killed."
"The entire... student council platoon?"
"Yup. It seems like they killed each other."
"...killed each other?"
"They didn't know who did Mephisto entered and became suspicious. Even he one person who survived it suspected that the enemy might be inside him and committed suicide. The child whose body was stolen is missing, and is probably dead now."
"That guy had inside information for some reason and outwitted our attack. The student council was virtually eradicated. I suspect he entered the school after possessing another student."
"...if that's really true, then did you report it?"
"Even Ouka-chan doesn't believe this right? They are the same. They brushed it off while laughing."
And thanks to that they think I'm not right in the head now, Nagaru smiled bitterly.
It didn't look like she was lying.
"The student council was wiped out. The only ones left is me and Shizuka-chan."
Good grief, she sipped the tea looking lonely.
The student council was devastated, and Nagaru holed herself up in this small room for a month, that's why she said it was siege.
Since she couldn't move she wanted Ouka to take down Mephisto, that's why she was called to such a place.
"By the way Ouka-chan... what do you think about Tenmyouji Reima?"
Nagaru asked while wrapping both of her hands around a cup.
"Tenmyouji... from the Witch-Hunting festival executive committee? I don't know much, only that he's the son of the Ethics Committee Chairman."
What about him? Asked Ouka.
Nagaru squinted sharply and sipped tea from her cup.
"Don't you think, he's acting unnatural?"
"Try thinking normally. He's a transfer student, not even a month passed since he came to this school. Moreover, he's a person from the Ethics Committee side?"
"Even though the Ethics Committee is recognized, there are quite a few students complaining about witches being protected by human rights. If anything, being from the Ethics Committee side should be a disadvantage... and yet, he alone has a weird personal magnetism."
Ouka could understand what Nagaru meant by unnatural.
Even though discrimination against witches has decreased in the world, it didn't apply to AntiMagic Academy which was quite detached from the world. How students are treating witches... it could be easily understood by looking at how Mari is treated.
The people from organization that defends the witches are the same. They are subjected to isolation.
"Don't you think it's strange that this kind of guy hosting the Witch-Hunting festival?"
"...certainly, it might be so. I've heard that he was the student council president in the branch school he was in before. So it wouldn't be weird for him to have the ability and personality, would it?"
"We also thought so, we cross-examined him, his performance and reputation from his previous school."
While saying that, Nagaru pulled out a report card from under the kotatsu and passed it to Ouka.
Ouka looked at the report card, and made a bitter face.
"That's right. Whether its studies or practical, he has no skills. While it might be that popularity and leadership won him the place of student council president, it's different in here."
As Nagaru said, in AntiMagic Academy you couldn't enter the student council unless you had both popularity and ability. Even in the branch school it should be the same.
"The upper-echelons pulled the strings... no, even so this is..."
There was a limit to it. He wouldn't be able to enter the student council. It's not the adults deciding it but the students.
"Weird, isn't it. Nevertheless, Tenmyouji became the student council president in his second year. If you ask about his reputation, all the branch school students praise him. Reima-sama this, Reima-sama that. It goes to a disgusting extent."
Ouka remembered the emergency meeting during the morning assembly. She recalled the female students who raised their voices as Reima spoke. It was similar, is what she thought.
Reima came over to the main school only a month ago... getting this popular in just a month was weird.
"Because these references were not helpful, we found a student who changed schools from the fourth branch and asked that kid how Tenmyouji Reima was as a 1st grader. And then..."
"An asshole. The impression of him could be summarized in one word. After telling that kid he was popular and the student council president at branch school, it was laughed as a lie."
Hearing that, Ouka placed a hand on her chin.
"When was it that Mephisto attacked student council?"
"A bit more than a month ago."
"Relatively close to ruins near the fourth branch school. The second time was on the forest road near the same place."
Ouka glared at Reima's report card and clenched her fist strongly.
She understood what Nagaru wanted to convey to her. The point was that, there was a high possibility Reima could be Mephisto right now. A Sudden change of personality, unnatural popularity. If the soul inside changed, and his true identity is a witch, then that would explain that rapid change.
Using spirit interference magic would have attracted many students.
"...the resuming of Witch-Hunting festival is something Tenmyouji planned, wasn't it."
"Since we holed up here to protect ourselves, that event's prepared in 100% by the Executive Committee."
"If he's really Mephisto then... he's the one who held the Witch-Hunting festival for..."
"A sacrifice, probably. Maybe he's gathering people during Witch-Hunting festival to perform some kind of large-scale magic..."
This is where Ouka-chan's turn starts. With that Nagaru's serious expression disappeared and *funyaa*, she yawned.
"Shizuka-chan is going to cooperate with you to investigate Tenmyouji Reima, if you find any evidence... If it's possible I want you to secure that guy〜. Since we're not sure whether he's Mephisto yet, I want you to confirm it first."
"Umm, why didn't you consider the possibility I might have already fallen into enemy's hands?"
"You're a Relic Eater contractor aren't you? If he tried to possess you he would get exposed to Inquisition immediately."
Nagaru said it as if it was obvious.
The fact that Ouka was a Relic Eater contractor shouldn't have been known by any of the students. She probably learned about it from her connections. It seemed like there was no bottom to things this woman knew.
She glanced at Ouka with her pupils of amber and continued.
"The reason I picked Ouka-chan, is because you can be trusted, right?"
"What do you base that on."
"You don't trust the Chairman do you? You're wondering what's behind that white-haired ghost, I can tell. You're wondering about the state of current Inquisition... am I wrong?"
"That would mean you're our comrade. I think you can make the correct decision. Even if you are daughter of the Chairman, I think you will go to the very bottom of a case."
"I have to decline. I have no interest in personal gain and power struggles among organizations."
"You're ambition incarnated. One day, you want to stand on top of the Inquisition. This time too, you used the student council as pieces; as a shield to checked whether Mephisto was real, and you are trying to undermine the Chairman's authority."
"...so you can tell that much〜. You're amazing〜 Ouka-chan."
For a moment, Nagaru's true nature could be seen on her face. An unique intoxicated expression of someone who stands above others, and uses them in their plays.. However, it wasn't as bad as Sougetsu's, Ouka evaluated Nagaru.
A bit of humanity remained in Nagaru.
"You're more or less right, but it's a bit different. The main reason I want to kill Mephisto isn't ambition... but a grudge."
A grudge? When she asked about it, Nagaru put on a troubled smile and continued to turn the cup in her fingers.
"It would be vengeance I guess〜. It's troubling that I'm this kind of person , but I don't feel sad nor frustrated about my subordinates dying. But the children who were killed probably were different. They were sad, and they were frustrated. I want to do it for the children who felt those feelings and take revenge on him〜."
With a wry smile, Nagaru tilted her neck.
"It was because of us that all these children died."
"I'm giving out instructions like this, but I can't fight by myself. My grades are good, but I'm horrible at actual combat. Pathetic isn't it〜"
"Even so, I'm the student council president chosen by the children who died. I want to take responsibility, it's my job〜"
*Ehhen*, she lightly puffed her chest.
"Well, these are our circumstances, Ouka-chan also wants to stop them don't you. For your revenge, and for your precious comrades, and all those other kinds of reasons... right?"
*kufufu*, Nagaru placed a hand on her mouth and laughed like a cat.
If it was the touch of humanity, it was precisely this. Judging from her words she knew Ouka's circumstances. Ouka started to hate her more and more.
"If you want revenge for your comrades, why don't you dirty your own hand. We're speaking about revenge you know? I'm going to do so myself."
"Why... Ouka-chan. It will be troubling if the only ones knowing the existence of Mephisto disappear right? What can a general do on the front lines."
Nagaru raised her index finger up and swayed it back and forth.
"The people standing on the top, always stays in the back, moving their minions from a safe and snugly location〜. To be the last one to die... what a sad fate it is!"
Disgusted by Nagaru's way of thinking, Ouka got out of the kotatsu and stood up.
"Oh, are you going to do it? As expected of the woman we had picked. I think you believe us when it comes to Mephisto's existence."
"No. I don't believe in it. I——"
Ouka looked back at Nagaru,
"——I'm going to confirm it with my own eyes and ears before I make the decision."
After she said what she believed in, Ouka left the second student council's room.
It was nine p.m. In the infirmary room lit up by moonlight Usagi lightly opened her eyes.
After noticing her surroundings are dark, she confirmed where she was.
"Nn, you woke up. Good morning, Usagi."
On a chair placed right next to the bed, with his back to the window from which the moon peeked in, was Takeru. He had a thin smile on his face.
"You've collapsed in the courtyard. You don't remember?"
Usagi explored her memory. The sky dyed by sunset, when Reima's shadowed face appeared in her thoughts, she felt a faint chill, but her spirit wasn't all that disturbed.
While fixing the button on her shirt, she glanced sideways at Takeru.
"Were you... beside me all this time?"
"I promised to stay beside you after all."
Just before she fell, right before her vision went blank, she heard his voice as her consciousness faded.
You're not alone. I'm by your side.
So that was Takeru's voice, Usagi blushed unconsciously.
She looked at the clock in the infirmary, it was nine o'clock. She slept for four hours or more.
"I-I'm sorry. I slept for so long, I...!"
"Don't worry about it. I've slept as well. Since I've been doing a part time job every day, I didn't sleep too much recently."
Takeru stretched his body with a small growl.
Even if he said not to worry about it. Knowing that he waited for her to wake up for four hours, she felt apologetic. Usagi also knew about Takeru's part time work, since it was nine o'clock, it meant he was already late. He must have taken a day off to accompany her.
Hating her own habits, she continued to apologize quietly.
Takeru hearing her apology stroked Usagi's head while laughing faintly.
"Let's go home. I'll walk you home."
Without saying anything, moved by Takeru's kindness and gentle laughter she nodded.
"L-let me prepare, can you wait a moment for me?"
When she moved her body trying to get down from the bed, she noticed her hand was touching something warm.
She looked at it, and saw her own hand firmly holding Takeru's big hand.
"? Ohh, this."
"Pe-perhaps... I... I've been holding it this entire time?! During my sleep, all this time?!"
"You were half asleep. And since it's been quite cold lately, it was probably because it was something warm."
Usagi released her hand in a hurry, and put her hands on her cheeks.
Feeling her face burning hot, disgraceful, she looked down.
When she thought about it, she got embarrassed by the fact her sleeping face was seen for four hours straight.
She also wondered whether she blurted out anything strange in her sleep, and if she didn't drool.
Such things continued to cross her mind, and Usagi nearly started hyperventilating again.
"Calm down, isn't holding hands fine. I'm happy that you relied on me."
"...that's why, umm... calm down."
Takeru smiled and pat her head again.
As he stroked her head, for some reason all the anxiety always faded away.
His hands had a very nostalgic feel to it, and made her feel at ease.
Why do I always... depend on these hands of his so much.
Despite the fact that she decided to surrender in her thoughts, inside Usagi dwelled a feeling that said she couldn't continue like that.
When the day of farewell comes, it will be painful.
That was her only concern.
On their way back, they walked side by side through a street that had luxurious houses lined one next to another.
Although the doctor from infirmary offered to send her home by car, they thought it was a good chance to talk a bit and Takeru respectfully declined.
They didn't talk. Usagi felt dispirited and walked by Takeru's side while dragging her feet and looking down.
"I'm sorry for, for the inconvenience I have caused you. I will do my best not to bother you any more."
"Didn't I tell you not to worry about that?"
"I will definitely maintain my calm from now on... that's why... that's why..."
She couldn't utter the continuation, and fell silent again.
It seemed like she was a bit nervous.
Certainly, she sometimes blundered because of her tension rising in the past.
But Takeru still relied on Usagi. The examples were the Hero terrorism or the tournament attack, even the Alchemist case just before. The platoon was saved by her. If Usagi wasn't there, Takeru would have dead already.
He appreciated that and never thought of blaming her.
And even though they didn't have any results, they did well up until now.
The reason Usagi was weak right now was probably...
"Executive committee chairman... Tenmyouji was it. He's your relative isn't he."
When he brought it up, Usagi's shoulder trembled slightly.
Takeru didn't miss that reaction.
"...did something happen between you and him?"
As not to stimulate her as much as possible, he tried to ask her casually.
Usagi faced down and slowed a little, she began to walk behind Takeru.
She didn't answer and didn't show her expression.
She just continued to stay silent.
"Sorry, forget about it. It's something that concerns your family, it's not like I want to stick my neck into your affairs."
With his back turned towards Usagi, Takeru said so.
As long as she doesn't speak by herself, he wouldn't interfere with her private matters. Although they had been able to take care of the danger when it came to Ikaruga, it was different with Usagi. In her case, it was a matter of heart.
It was an unspoken law of the 35th test platoon, to protect each other.
"...I am not burdened with anything special like Suginami was."
Usagi muttered quietly. But in this silence, Takeru heard it.
"It's circumstances in my household. That's why even if I say it, it can't be helped."
Her usual stout-hearted attitude, and her domineering attitude which concealed everything weren't there, and Usagi's voice was husky.
"...what is it. You're not your usual self."
"That's irrelevant. Don't compare yourself to your comrades. In the first place, even if your troubles weight less than theirs, it doesn't mean they're light for you."
"If those troubles are heavy for you, then they would be heavy for me as well."
"No matter what it is, if you say you want my help, I'll help you with all my strength."
With these words of Takeru, Usagi's feet stop. He also stopped and looked back at her.
Although he thought he acted like a show off, but it wasn't a lie.
A car passed by them, and lit the two with its headlights.
Usagi turned towards Takeru who had a troubled smile on his face.
"It's impossible for Kusanagi."
"It ain't impossible. Don't say that before you try. Even I can do a thing or two for you——"
"Then, if I said I want to marry Kusanagi right now, would you do it?"
...what did she say?
Takeru blanked out.
"Meaning, will you take me as your wife?"
It took a few seconds for Takeru to understand what Usagi was talking about.
Did she say marry? Why marriage? He didn't think it was a joke considering the current situation, marriage, in other words, it's some kind of proposal. No, in such atmosphere, she must've meant it seriously.
There were tears in Usagi's eyes, and she wasn't laughing. She wasn't even embarrassed.
In her eyes, there were no expectation. It seemed as if she gave up on something.
Usagi wiped her tears off and looked down with a hand on her chest.
"The reason for my suffering, is something like that. Tenmyouji Reima is my fiancée, he's the son of Ethics Committee Chairman. Saionji house is in a dangerous position in the Inquisition Board, and there is no other heir than me. It's because I'm a bastard child that my parents decided to use me as a tool for political maneuvers."
"...these days, that kind of thing... still happens?"
In short, it was a marriage of convenience. Regardless of the person in question herself, her parents decided the lifelong partner for her by themselves. It was a story from a world different from the one Takeru lived in.
"Since I didn't have any good results in school I have no value as a tool to use. Originally my grandfather was closer to Ethics Committee, and that's more than enough of a reason to change jobs, that's the only way left for Saionji. It can't be helped."
"Even so... this is wrong."
"Then... what should... I do?"
Faced with that question head on, Takeru couldn't answer.
Usagi's expression clearly indicated she tried to endure it.
In the pitch black darkness, she was shouting for help. Takeru reflected on himself.
It was an unrealistic story, and no solutions came to his mind. That's why, he thought just like Usagi that there's no other way than to get married.
However, that was a mistake.
Even if they married without a reason, it wouldn't change anything about the political marriage.
"...I apologize. I shouldn't have spoken about it to Kusanagi after all."
"I will leave the school in a month. So at the very least I wanted to spend the time in the platoon like usual, but... the weakness in my heart became unbearable."
As she faced down, a single teardrop spilled from her eyes.
Surely, she must've been desperately trying to act as she usually did after she was placed under such circumstances.
And yet, after confronting Reima she had to face the reality and collapsed.
But Takeru was still not convinced.
A marriage of convenience. That wasn't enough of a reason to have her be frightened this much. Right? Takeru didn't know how she was treated in Saionji household.
There had to be something else there. Definitely.
However, if Usagi was really going to quit school.
And she herself didn't want that, that was an inexcusable tyranny they couldn't allow as her comrades.
Then, what should he do? How could he help Usagi? It wasn't something he could fight with, there was no clear enemy. While he hit a brick wall when it came to various members' circumstances before, in a sense, this was the most troublesome case.
What can Takeru who had "a single brain cell" do. What can Takeru who only knew swordsmanship do. How should he stick his neck into her family circumstances, stop the marriage and make sure Usagi continues going to school. That was...
Takeru walked up to Usagi and stood in front of her.
She forced her head up, and stared at him.
Takeru returned her gaze, and while staring straight at her he put a hand on her shoulder.
"You——stay in my room for today."
Not knowing how he came up to such a conclusion, Usagi blanked out.
She even forgot to blush, and opened her mouth agape.
It was 10 p.m., it was a little early to get to sleep.
The steam obscured her vision, and the sound of water resounded throughout the bathroom. Usagi was standing under the shower in a daze for about ten minutes already.
She was currently in Takeru's room. After he said that she should stay in his room, Takeru silently grabbed her hand and brought her to his apartment.
It was the first time she seen Takeru so assertive.
With the image those words reminded her of, Usagi's face reddened in a flash.
"W-w-wha-what am I... it's unsoundly... shameless...!!"
She placed a hand on her cheek and reduced the shower's temperature to cool herself down.
However, as she thought about it, even if Takeru invited her to his room by himself, that was the only way it could have been interpreted. Also, the reason Usagi entered bath was 'I want to think about it a little longer'.
The simplest interpretation was——I won't let you sleep tonight?
In the first place, she was the one who asked if he will marry her. Maybe it was his response to her proposal, and it turned into this kind of behavior.
"If I was invited then... it means it's an OK? F-for us t-to ma-marry? ...fuaaa...?"
She didn't know what Takeru's real intention was, and even if it really was a marriage proposal, she didn't know how to react to it. She felt like rolling around the bathroom.
"H-h-hhhowever such an act, i-isn't it t-to be done after getting married... the first time i-is that kind of thing right...?"
No, wait. And Usagi stopped.
I-in the world there's something like fait accompli. I-if I make a child before that, I won't have to marry Reima-sama. It's surprisingly reasonable... if we make a child, I'll be able to stay with Kusanagi forever... b-but, wait wait wait a second! I want to stay with the platoon, not only with Kusanagi. Suginami is important to me as well, even Ootori and Nikaido, even though it's annoying, they are comrades.
*swish swish swish*, she continued to shake her head.
But if she became Takeru's wife, she would be always nearby and it would be really a joyous thing right? If she was his wife she could monopolize him. Anytime and anywhere, he would praise her and pet her head if she asked him.
She thought of what was most important to her. It was possible to get his love. The thing she desired the most, that her family couldn't give her... Takeru might be able to give her.
Nononononono! Isn't that just giving up?! Doesn't it feel like he did it out of sympathy because of circumstances in my house?! Also, that's not what fait accompli means. It's having children, children! Having children with such impure intentions. To begin with, why is it children, the thing I want is actually something else...
And, she tried to imagine it in her thoughts. Takeru would be the father, Usagi would be the mother. A poor but warm home. A family spending their days while holding hands.
Takeru smiling kindly by her side, and she herself holding a baby.
She saw herself being incredibly happy.
Blood rushed to her head and she nearly fell over, she placed her hands on the wall.
While anxious about whether she should go or not, Usagi stopped thinking.
"...fine, what happens shall happen."
While blushing the entire time, she washed her body more thoroughly than usual and soaked in the bathtub.
She placed a hand on her chest which floated in the water like balloon and pressed it lightly. It was also one of Usagi's complexes, her big breasts disproportionate to her short body. They were a hindrance, and men stared at them, her big breasts which to her only had negative aspects to them.
...they say men like them bigger.
"...will Kusanagi... be happy about them..."
It might be a good factor for her first time.
She couldn't stand her naughtiness any longer, and sunk her head in the bathtub.
Usagi went in the bath and Takeru had already finished making his call and was sitting cross-legged with his arms folded.
For the time being, what he was equipped with was what he had in his head only.
They will all gather their opinions, and finish it at full force.
There's no guarantee it will work. He had no confidence in convincing Usagi's parents.
However, if it was possible it might succeed, they will at least hear them out.
That was why, there was something he had to do.
Takeru murmured "all right", and hit the palm of his left hand with his right fist.
That's when the bath's door opened and Usagi came out from it.
"Oh, you're out. Sorry about the bath being so small——wha..."
He could not believe his eyes, Usagi stood naked with just a bath towel covering her chest.
"Y-yo-you, w-why are you... naked?"
"...A...uu... because... I left my clothes... so I'm not wearing them."
Usagi averted her line of sight.
Takeru thought 'no good'.
Before he noticed Usagi had already left bathroom and entered the room, she finished her bath while he was lost in thought and he had only placed a bath towel in the dressing room. He forgot to place a change of clothes as well.
"Sorry about that! It's mine, but I'll get you a jersey right——"
Why?! He retorted instinctively.
Usagi dropped her line of sight lower, her eyes were watery and her face flushed. She continued shyly.
"Because... I'll end up... naked anyway."
............why?! He retorted instinctively.
He rose up and tried to recall where he put the jersey at.
But he couldn't look away from Usagi's body and concentrate on thinking.
Usagi took a single step forward anxiously.
Stopitthisisnogood. Don't come over here. If you come closer as a man I will——
At that moment, since she didn't wipe her body well and droplets fell on tatami, Usagi slipped.
Takeru moved reflexively and hugged her body.
It was inevitable, the two were behind closed doors and they froze while hugging each other.
N-no good... this situation is not good at all...
He was in close contact with Usagi's skin, it was soft, wet and incredibly hot.
Her slightly trembling shoulders, wet hair, moist lips. The swelling which pressed against him felt deadly and pleasant even though they were separated through clothing...
Usagi shook her hair and looked up at Takeru from under him.
"I-it's my... first time, I don't... know what to do."
Her expression looked so lovely it was deadly, he didn't know what was going on, and she said in a very miserable voice.
"That's why I will... leave it to Kusanagi, is that fine?"
"W-wait... don't rush it. What are you talking about...!"
"Why do you have such a wondering expression. Could you explain how did it come to this."
As Takeru said that, Usagi opened her eyes wide seemingly in shock.
And, after her eyes wandered for a moment she then grasped Takeru's clothes tightly.
"Horrible... for me to be cornered this far."
"Don't... shame me any more than this."
Her watery eyes looking from below. And these were words no man would be able to resist.
Takeru was no exception. Although he had confidence in his own rationale, he didn't think he would be cornered this far.
THIS IS BAD. These were the words that floating in his head. He stared at her for few seconds. Eventually Usagi raised her chin a little and closed her eyes.
Pale pink and very moist lips released warm breath.
Takeru's body moved naturally as well, he gently closed in on Usagi's lips with his own.
"Takkeru〜〜〜♪ Good evening〜〜〜♪ I came over to play but your interphone is brokeeen!"
———And with this impossible timing, the room's door opened all at once. What appeared, was Mari who had a smile comparable to a sunflower on her face.
"Haa... when I was here for the last time it was a haunted place but it seems like nothing strange happens at Takeru's room ri...gh...t..."
Mari took of her shoes and entered the room as Takeru and Usagi hugged each other. Their eyes met. And next was,
"Hey you! You should at least knock! As they say, a hedge in between keeps friendship green... you left your shoes untidily too... seriously."
After tidying up the shoes Mari took off, Ouka entered the room.
And their eyes met. In addition,
"It's been four years since I was outside of the school, I didn't think the second place I'll visit would be Kusanagi's room... it might be abrupt, but let's look for ero books, ero books it is!"
Ikaruga rowdily stepped into his room while wearing the usual dreamy expression. And their eyes met.
Feeling that blood will be shed soon, Takeru was about to cry. Usagi in his chest too, opened and closed her mouth in shock.
That's why this situation was no good, and Takeru repeated this in his head over and over again.
"I...I told you going that far with ero is no good... unless it's with me...!"
"Kusanagi, so you are that kind of guy... I really tried to think you aren't like that... but you really...!"
"Why...? Kusanagi... Usagi... why, just the two of you...!"
The three got angry respectively, the voltage had increased.
Takeru prepared for the onslaught that was to take place after this, he moved away from Usagi and took a defensive posture. He couldn't use Soumatou. Although he wanted to say he wasn't at fault, but he couldn't deny his passion from a moment ago, so he resigned himself——
"So you really are a skirt chaser——!!"
"I told you to include me into the mix——!!"
"I beg you! Just don't kick my vital points——hannnn!!"
Looking like demons——the trio seemed to be a trance——and jumped right at him, Takeru was kicked in that which symbolized his manhood.
Under the grieving night sky, painful cries of Takeru's agony rang out.
Takeru was rolling around while receiving kicks, after he desperately finished explaining the situation. He faced the platoon members while in seiza.
About Usagi's home. Her fiancée. And that she didn't want to quit school.
After obtaining her consent, they heard the story from Usagi herself.
"——Just marry Kusanagi already, make two kids, kids I say."
That was the first thing that left Ikaruga's mouth.
*pishin* Takeru who was covered in blue bruises pointed at Ikaruga.
"Yes, dismissed! Think! Seriously! Right now!"
*pishin* *pishin* *pishin* *pishin*, he continued to move the finger pointing at Ikaruga.
"I am serious, your marriage is welcome. I want to be the mistress of course, I would be the mistress for both of you."
"I have no intention of taking you as a mistress even if I were about to die...!!"
"? Then marry me instead?"
"That's not the problem! And don't put up an expression as if you're really considering it you dumbass!"
Takeru got angry at her and blood vessels appeared on his temple.
And the person in question, Ikaruga acted like she didn't notice it.
"I think having children is a good idea. Kusanagi aside, if it's Usagi's children then they will be cute right? They'll be lovely〜? Look, Usagi has big breasts so there will be no problems with the child's growth——"
"The boob size and the children's growth have nothing to do with each other right?! Children can drink from small ones as well with no problem—!! The small ones can compete with big ones when it comes to nutritional value!"
"...why did Nikaido go berserk at that point."
"Shut up, you're annoying me! In the first place, the marriage is out of the question!! Mother is not going to forgive it!"
It seemed like Mari became mother, sat down cross-legged and pouted. Ouka also followed and growled while crossing her arms.
"M-marriage is... as expected. Certainly, you're almost at age where you can marry, but you two are still students. Also, for you to marry for such a reason... you two should more... uhh, love... confirm your love for each other rather than..."
"Confirm each other's love... in other words, do it once."
"?! ?! I-I d-didn't mean it like that! I thought so before, but Suginami is too vulgar! A-a-as a maiden!"
Ouka's voice turned into that of an innocent girl.
Seeing Ouka like that, Ikaruga smiled with an ecstatic look.
It was the usual scene. At this rate the talk would have shifted in a completely different direction.
Wanting to correct it, Takeru tried to open his mouth,
Usagi raised her hand timidly.
"Why everyone here in the first place...?"
She muttered an elementary question, and looked at the three who came to Takeru's room.
The trio stared at Takeru. And he started over and faced towards them.
"I'm the one who called them. I though we should hold a strategical meeting."
Strategical meeting? Usagi made a questioning expression.
Ouka and the others expected such a talk, so they listened in silence.
"——Commencing the Saionji Usagi rescue operation meeting."
Hearing Takeru's declaration, Usagi couldn't believe her ears.
"The contents of the strategy is to get results during the Witch-Hunting festival to convince the Saionji house, it's to try to convince her parents. In the case they aren't persuaded by the fact we earned points, I want you to help me find alternative options."
Seeing Takeru's serious expression, Usagi's eyes shook faintly.
"If it's like this, we need to go all out during the Witch-Hunting festival. Our comrade is having a crisis, all of us have to do our best."
"That's what I intended from the very beginning, but it seems like we're no longer allowed to fail... very well, let's go at full force."
"It will be lonely without Usagi-chan. I'll help out as well."
"I'm not happy about getting points without actual combat... but if Saionji drops out it will be troubling. I might be inexperienced but let me lend a hand."
Everyone's opinion matched, and the 35th test platoon rose up.
Usagi was speechless, and just stared at everyone.
"If you leave it to me, it'll end up bad. We need a solid foundation."
"...isn't this woman's anxiety indicate just the opposite, that she's eager to do it? Let's think about someone else. Ootori Ouka, you're Chairman's daughter so you can do something right? Use authority, authority!"
"Uu... well, I thought about that as well. But I want to save it as the last resort. That person is not reliable. The result might not be good at all... it's a double-edged sword."
"It should be fine even if we don't use the Chairman's authority. It will definitely succeed right?"
It became a huge commotion as everyone brainstormed and proposed their ideas.
Usagi couldn't endure it, and looked down alone.
Tears spilled. Emotions raged within her chest, and she could no longer bear it.
She thought that this is the place she belongs to once again. And she gave up on her home. She couldn't run away endlessly, be at their mercy and tied to them until she dies. These were her vague thoughts.
Even though she gave up, they were doing their best for her sake.
They wanted her to stay with them. They needed her. For that reason, she needed to borrow their strength.
For Usagi, being needed by someone, was something to be happy about, there was nothing else like that.
As she quietly cried, Takeru placed his big hand on her head.
"If we can't help it with just the two of us... if we try all together, it will work out somehow."
"You're not alone, I'm here too."
"...but, I... there's nothing I can give you all in return... I am just dragging your feet... just keep getting helped..."
Usagi's head which was still lowered, was hit with a fist.
"Wh-what are you doing〜"
"...do you know just how many times you saved our lives?"
Takeru said while being a bit angry.
"During the battle with Hero your sniping saved me, who was fighting with his own flesh and blood. I would have been killed if not for you."
"It was the same during the tournament. When I was lying all beat up, you saved Ootori and Mari even though your eye was crushed."
"In the fifth laboratory, you made a crack on the dragon's back. Because you hit that shell, I was able to stab my sword in."
Takeru reached towards Usagi's head again, and this time he stroked it slowly and gently.
"Because you were there, we are alive right now."
"We will need you in the future as well. That's why I gathered everyone like this. I think you should know that."
After hearing Takeru's speech, Usagi started to cry aloud. It was a much more spectacular cry.
All the members were startled, and for some reason they blamed Takeru for it.
"Takeru! What did you say to Usagi-chan!"
"Geez, you probably said something rotten to her anyway right? What are you going to do with her crying like this... yes yes, there there, don't cry."
Ikaruga and Mari tried to calm her down.
Certainly, it might have been a bit rotten. Takeru scratched his cheek with a wry smile.
"Speaking of which, Kusanagi... Saionji's fiancée, is he attending our school?"
Despite the fact the other two were by Usagi, Ouka remained near him.
"I don't know the details, but he seems to be Usagi's childhood friend."
"Hmm... do you know his name?"
"Yeah, Tenmyouji Reima. Witch-Hunting festival's executive committee chairman. It's the guy who delivered the speech in the morning."
"What is it?"
"............no, it's nothing."
Ouka looked away from Takeru and narrowed her eyes seriously.
Takeru was a bit worried about that, but he didn't think about it deeply at the moment.
After that Ouka stayed at the strategy meeting with everyone, and then left to do work she was asked to do by the student council, she was the only one who went home.
Install (インストール) - It's written as (憑依) meaning "Possession" .