Under a Willow Tree

How can I tell her

Beginning of April. The third day after start of the school year. After class.

Kahoko was passing by the soccer field, her mind full of thoughts when a blur of green caught her attention. She turned around upon hearing a voice call out :

“Hino? Why are you heading towards the Music Department?”

“Ah! Hello Tsuchiura-kun! Well, I haven’t seen Tsukimori-kun since school started three days ago... I’d like to hear from him...How his holiday and practices went...”

As she said so, a light blush could be seen coloring her cheeks. But, why the hell was she blushing? It’s normal to ask some news to a friend you haven’t seen for three weeks, isn’t it? Then, what was she embarrassed for?

FLASH-BACK

Kahoko had noticed the Len had returned to his usual stoicism as the school year neared its end.

During their private lessons, she came to know him better, little by little. He was becoming a lot more gentler, although he kept his strict attitude during practices. She had been able to catch little smiles he permitted himself (how discreet they are, and yet so cute) as he observed her attentively. She had grown to appreciate those golden eyes which were no more as rough when he stared at her. There was something in those eyes that puzzled and dazzled her, though she didn't know why and what it is that is making her heart beat fast

But several days ago he had returned to the mask he wore before he knew her; returned into the expressionless, indifferent mask that he maintained to keep other people away from him.

‘Why?’she had asked herself several times. Deep in her mind, she knew that Len was keeping something from her.

But what could she do? Who was she to dare ask him questions? Could she only consider herself as his friend?

If the only thing she could do for him to feel better was to do her best to become a good violinist, then she would do it gladly, and with a smile.

And that was why she chose to enjoy the things as they happened, enjoyed the moments between her and Len; even the quiet moments. She chose to be herself, for Len, despite the little deception that she felt but couldn't quite explain...

“Tsukimori-kun, do you think that you would be able to help me with my practices during the holidays? If it’s only for some time...”

“I’m sorry Hino, but I don’t know if I’ll have time for you. I’ll probably be really busy...”

What she couldn't explain was why he offered to help her with her violin practices. In the first place, they had worked on improving her playing because of the concours she had participated in, but after that, the practices continued until the end of the year. Was it a product of habit? A product of a little getting used to?

But now... Was she that much of a burden that he wouldn’t waste his time teaching her?

And so the year ended with that confusing situation. They bid each other a great time during the holidays, avoiding meeting each other's eyes, and deliberately refusing to notice the sad tone in their voice.

Kahoko had decided to refrain from bothering Tsukimori-kun during the holidays; she had decided to wait for him to contact her if he wished; if ever he would have a bit of a spare time. And although she didn't really count on it...she had decided to do so.

The outings with her friends, Nao and Mio...the slumber party Fuyuumi-chan and Amou-san hosted...a week at the sea-side with her family and an afternoon watching and cheering for Hihara-senpai and Tsuchiura-kun as they played a one on one basketball match--all of these prevented her from thinking about her lessons, and of Tsukimori-kun himself, but of course, she never failed to practice playing her violin every time she could.

‘What would Tsukimori-kun say if I didn’t practice during the holidays?’

She smiled to herself at the thought of his frowned face, ready to sermon her.

“What were you thinking Hino, wasting your time all these three week instaed of practicing your violin? You’ll forgot everything you had hardly learned before the holidays!”

Yes... He would probably say something like that.

And that’s why she did her best with her pratcices to show him what she was capable to do.

END OF FLASH-BACK

Kahoko got herself out of her transe to discover, to her surprise, Ryoutarou’s half-mad and half-worried face.

“Tsuchiura-kun...? Is something wrong...?”

'So that stupid guy didn’t tell her anything! What was he thinking, leaving the task of telling her the news to me? Tsukimori, you bloody coward. Where did that pride of yours go? Besides, you’re leaving me the worst role to play...I wonder how she's going to react...'

She snapped her hand in front of his face, making him let go of his mundane thought.

“Tsuchiura-kun?”

“A-ah, sorry, I was spacing out...” he said with a nervous laugh. “If you’re looking for Tsukimori, he’s not here”.

At the sight of Kahoko lowering her eyes with a worried look on her face, he convinced himsel that that was the moment for him to tell her everything :

“Hino, may you wait until the end of my training?... There is... something I have to tell you.”

“Oh... Well, I don’t mind...” she said, raising her head with a slight frown on her face.

---

She sat on a bench while she waited for Tsuchiura-kun to finish his field practice. She couldn't help but wonder what he has to tell her :

‘What does he have to tell me with the anxious look of his? And even more strangely, how did he know about Tsukimori-kun’s absence? They’re not really getting along that well...’

Her Gen-Ed partner in crime was not long to come back to the bench she was waiting on.

“Let’s go have a wolk, okay?”

“O-okay”. By the look on her face, he could guess she was curious to know what he wanted to tell her.

He had to prepare his words properly. Ryoutarou knew that it would probably upset her... She used to spend a lot of time with Tsukimori before the holidays, his opinion became really important to her and she even told the pianist that she admired the blue-haired guy and that she liked his melodies very much. The soccer player had of course noticed her growing attachment for that little bocchama (how he liked to call him).

At the end of all his reflections, they arrived at the park. The park was almost empty of people, surprising for a breezy afternoon when a lot of people would have loved to stroll around. He found a wooden bench surrounded by trees, and he asked silently to sit down to his friend, wich unexpectedly kept her mouth shut during the entire course of their walk.

Standing right in front of her, picking his words carefully,he took a deep breath.


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