Sorry for the long wait. We’re ready to finish this volume and continue with the next.
We would like to introduce a new title that will be published on our web page. The English version is now being translated by Aehein. Look forward to it! As of now, a summary is uploaded: You are the daughter of my first love.

Einherjar Project

※※※

The 1LDK apartment in the absence of Komamura and Kanon, even though it should be the same as always, seemed incredibly spacious to her.

“I wonder when they’ll be back…” Himari checked the clock and then muttered to herself.

However, it wasn’t as if they were going to instantly come back just because she said that.

Himari turned her gaze back to the computer screen.

Even after submitting her drawing for an award, Himari continued to draw.

“Okay…! Done!”

This time she hadn’t completed an illustration, but a short, original four-page manga.

The doujinshi artist Himari admired had published a variety of original manga, and Himari had been significantly influenced by them.

Actually, the name ‘Himari’ was also the name of a character that appeared in those doujinshi.

However, Himari was aware of how difficult manga is.

The techniques used are completely different from those used to draw a single illustration.

Even if it was a short manga, she had managed to create something that falls into the category, learning only by observation.

“It’s been a while since the last time I published.”

Himari entered the name of an image sharing site into the search engine.

She had uploaded images to that site from before she ran away from home, but since that happened, she hadn’t posted anything.

Even though it wasn’t that long ago, just seeing the logo of that site made her feel nostalgic.

Logging in, going to her personal page, and uploading the manga.

Then, when she confirmed that it was uploaded, read the manga once more from the beginning.

This time she drew a fantasy that has The Little Mermaid as its inspiration.

A girl who from birth received a curse that forbids her to fall in love, one day got her leg injured in the forest where she went out to play, being unable to move.

A young hunter helped her.

The girl fell in love when she felt the kindness of the young man, but because of the curse, she could not express her feelings.

However, after being in contact with the young man many times, the girl was unable to control her overflowing feelings at the end. And then, the moment she said, “I love you”…

Because of the curse, the young man turned into a flickering star fragment, and vanished.

The girl couldn’t help but cry with regret for what she had done.

…It is what you call a tragic love story.

Himari thought of putting color only in the background of the scene in which the young man disappears to express the sadness, beauty and cruelty…

In The Little Mermaid, her love was not compensated, and she became a bubble, but in this story the one who disappeared was the boy to whom she confessed.

“…”

Even though she was the one who wrote it, she felt an irritation at the back of her nose.

She knew the reason. That was because she put herself in the girl.

That occasion… when she was so close to confessing her feelings to Komamura, she swallowed the words ‘I love you’ as fast as she could.

Today she was relieved that she hadn’t done so.

It was likely that her feelings had already leaked out to him, though.

Inwardly, Himari still felt safe because she hadn’t put it into words.

Because if she had spoken it, Komamura’s existence would definitely have been further away than it was now.

“…I want to be an adult now.” Himari held her knees as she sniffled.

If I could tell him about my feelings in the same status and I myself were to disappear… it would be sad, but it would be fine.

But Himari was still a minor.

There are a lot of responsibilities that go to adults.

The fact that she almost confessed, in the end made her realize what that really meant.

She couldn’t forget those eyes of Komamura’s tinged with bewilderment.

Feelings of guilt spread through Himari’s chest.

She was ashamed that she was actually a girl who until that point had only thought, ‘I want you to look at me, I want you to love me.’

So Himari made up her mind, I’m going to hold on to this feeling, at least until I leave here.

That at least should be forgiven to her.

And there was another thing she noticed since she started living here.

Komamura and Kanon unreprovingly supported her to pursue drawing.

That was the situation she wholeheartedly wished for with her own parents.

“…”

The figure of her parents appeared in her mind.

A figures criticizing Himari for drawing, saying ‘enough of this nonsense.’

Such had become the first thing she remembered about her parents since she left home.

“For being the daughter of who you are.”

“We have high expectations of you, Himari.”

“…”

Those were words she didn’t know how many times she had heard, nothing more than a curse to Himari.

It’s not like she hated it.

She knew why it was so alarming to her parents.

But Himari ended up loving drawing more than anything else.

One day, by chance, she stumbled upon an amateur story while browsing the Internet, and was very impressed.

However…

Himari looked at her palms.

When Murakumo arbitrarily entered the house and in the heat of the moment she moved her body to protect Kanon… Only that time she was grateful to it.

“…Both of them… still…” she watched the clock again. She couldn’t wait for them to return.

With that in mind, Himari checked one more time to make sure she hadn’t left out any drawings before posting the manga to the social network she had kept open.

After confirming that the posting completed screen showed, Himari closed the site.

“Haa, I’m exhausted… It’s truly amazing that a mangaka can draw so many of these, hey…”

Just as she raised her arms and stretched them out…

Himari heard the sound of the front door lock opening, so she quickly stood up.

“Himari, we’re back!”

“We brought dinner!”

The moment she saw the figures of the two carrying the shopping bags, Himari felt genuinely relieved.

“Komamura-san, Kanon-chan, welcome home!”

She was genuinely happy with this relationship where she could have this exchange of ‘I’m home’ and ‘welcome home’ with a smile.

But she couldn’t wish that with her own parents at the moment.

She had decided to confront them, but after all, she still carried great anxiety.

An ache slowly spread in Himari’s heart as she felt the smell of the outside wafting in on the wind from the door.

At the Personification Cat Café Mofumofu an lively voice rang out today as well.

“Have a nice day, nyan!”

Himari was with a smile on her face, waving goodbye to a customer at the entrance of the establishment.

Since it was early afternoon on a non-holiday, the number of customers in the store had become zero.

She looked outside from the entrance, but there were not many people out there today either, probably due to the bad weather.

Himari went to clean the table. It was a behavior she had become completely accustomed to.

For better or worse, ever since Takato confessed to her, Himari’s entry time to part-time work was limited to noon only.

Since he was a college student, he was on the main evening shift.

Thanks to that, Himari had not met Takato since that day.

However, she was a little worried if any co-workers knew that he had confessed to her. Especially since she didn’t want Ezoguchi to find out.

She thought about it as she cleaned the table and as she washed the tablecloth in the sink.

She wondered if it would have been preferable to go out with Takato, who was closer in age, than to watch from afar Komamura, who was in a difficult position and with whom there seemed to be no chance.

However, I came to this place to earn money and not to fall in love…

When she thought about it, she realized that the same applied for Komamura.

She had not run away from home to fall in love.

The reason I’m here now…

It was as clear as day.

She had declared it to Komamura and Kanon the other day.

She said that after saving the necessary money she would confront her parents. She had also set a deadline for herself to stay.

But she could not lie to the feelings welling up in her chest.

As if to manipulate her quivering chest, Himari looked around the inside of the store and squeezed the tablecloth with all her strength.

She felt somewhat guilty because she was already thinking about quitting, even though it was a part-time job that she had finally gotten used to.

“Himari-chan.”

When Himari finished her shift and was intending to go to the staff room, a deep voice that called out to her prompted her to stop.

“Ah, Manager.”

When she turned around, Manager Nakaomi with a smile beckoned her to come closer.

The first time she met her, she was surprised by the disparity between her appearance and voice, and even now she wasn’t totally used to it.

By the way, from what she had heard from fellow co-workers, Nakaomi was a big fan of cosplay.

It seems that she also deposited in Personification Cat Café Mofumofu her hobby.

While remembering what she had heard from her coworkers, Himari was standing obediently in front of Nakaomi.

“Himari-chan. Thank you for your hard work.”

Nakaomi took a brown envelope from the file she was carrying and handed it to Himari.

Himari who immediately knew what it was, was surprised and looked at Nakaomi.

“Ah… I see. It’s today… T-thank you very much!” Himari grabbed the precious envelope and bowed deeply.

“From the beginning, when I learned that Himari-chan didn’t want a deposit, but to have it delivered personally, I packed the money enthusiastically. But even so… Fufufufu. As I expected, your reactions are honest and adorable, Himari-chan.” Nakaomi put a hand to her own cheek and smiled, looking delighted.

For some reason, Himari had a feeling that she, who had no experience in part-time jobs, was accepted because Nakaomi liked her.

“Th-thank you.”

“Use it wisely, okay? It’s your first p~a~y. ☆”

“Y-yes…”

Nakaomi occasionally spoke to her with this kind of spirit, but Himari didn’t know how she should react to it.

“Wow, what’s wrong? There’s not that animated spirit you were showing a while ago to the customers, you know?!”

“I’m s-sorry! I’ll use it wisely!”

“Yeah. All right. Lively youngsters are the best.” Satisfied with Himari’s answer, Nakaomi left leaving an enigmatic wink.

She had an intense temper, but it didn’t change the fact that she was a good person.

Himari returned to the staff room as she looked at the envelope again.

It was neither an allowance nor money that had been given to her by a relative.

It was the first time in life that she got money earned by herself.

Himari thought it was a good thing to learn how hard it was to earn money by getting a part-time job here.

Komamura did not show it on his face, but Himari understood how difficult it had been for him to buy her that variety of things.

At the same time, her father’s and her mother’s faces came into her mind.

“…”

A few wrinkles were drawn on Himari’s eyebrows as she tightly clenched the envelope with the money.

※※※

In the evening.

Indiscriminately, I refused the invitation to go drinking from Isobe who was in a good mood. So, I left the company immediately…

But I stopped on the spot.

“Yuuri…”

Right next to the bushes was Yuuri, with whom I hadn’t had any contact since that day, waiting for me.

I was perplexed. Because I still hadn’t been able to determine an answer.

However…

“Kazuki-kun, forgive me.”

“Ehh?”

Faster than I could have ever responded, Yuuri suddenly lowered her head excessively.

It was so sudden that my thoughts went out of gear.

“Eh… Errrrr…?”

“That… About the matter the other day…”

The thing the other day… I assumed she meant the confession.

But what the heck did this sudden apology for that mean?

Don’t tell me it was something like, ‘after all, it’s better if we leave it at that.’ I mean, I’m confessed and rejected at the same time?

My head was filling with questions, whereas Yuuri looked away and kept talking to me:

“I ended up saying that without thinking about Kazuki-kun’s current situation… When I got home, I realized that you have no room to think about me while you have Himari-chan and Kanon-chan’s matter on your hands… That’s why I’m apologizing to you.”

“Ah, ah…”

It was just as Yuuri said. I had my hands full with the affairs of the two of them.

Even before Yuuri confessed to me… When I was doing my normal work, I was in a state in which I couldn’t help but think about Kanon and Himari.

Certainly, it was a fact that the me of now had no room for feelings.

“Well, that’s why… After all, it’s better that…”

“I can’t do that.”

“…Ehh?” This time it was Yuuri who was taken aback by my answer.

Sure, I was surprised, confused, and unresponsive to Yuuri’s confession—however:

“I can’t pretend it didn’t happen. No, I won’t. I think I at least do know how brave you were to put it in words… It’s because we are childhood friends.”

We knew each other for twenty years.

Considering her personality and behavior patterns, I knew that a ‘confession’ was not an easy thing for Yuuri.

‘I love you.’ Having the fear that those two words alone could change our relationship, Yuuri still said them to me.

“So, could you wait for my answer? It might take me a while though.”

“Kazuki-kun…” Yuuri smiled as tears welled up in the corners of her eyes. “That’s a sly thing to say… It sure is sly. I’ll love you more and more if you answer me like that, don’t you think so?”

“Uh… Errr…”

“Fu fu fu fu. It’s a joke. But yes, I understand. I’ll wait until things with the two of them are settled. Whatever the answer is… I’ll wait for you,” Yuuri said that. Then she waved her hand slightly and turned away.

For a while, I stood still on the spot, watching Yuuri’s figure from behind.

“Komamura-san.”

As I pressed the button of the building’s elevator and waited vacantly for it to open, a voice I knew all too well called out to me.

I turned around, and there was Himari approaching me in a little jog.

Apparently, she was returning from her part-time job.

She was smiling more than usual.

“Why so smiley? Did something happen to make you happy?”

“Tee-hee. I’ll leave it for later,” she said that and headed for the stairs of the building.

Himari always took the stairs to avoid as much as possible to run into other residents.

The only reason she addressed me now was because there was no one around.

Usually, I was irritated when the elevator took forever to come down, but today I didn’t fret about it, because I could make my arrival home differ with Himari’s.

“I’m back.”

“Welcome home.”

“Welcome.”

As soon as I opened the front door, both of their voices rang out at the same time.

Kanon was in the kitchen chopping onions. Himari was rummaging through her bag, so to speak.

Then, shortly after…

“Komamura-san, following up on just now, look!”

What she took out while saying that was a brown envelope.

I received the envelope and immediately checked the contents. There were three ten-thousand-yen bills in it.

“What is this?”

“Today was payday. So far, you’ve taken care of the food, clothes and stuff… I can finally pay for them,” Himari replied with a gentle smile.

I see, so today was her payday?

I remembered the day Himari said she was going to look for a part-time job.

At first, I wondered how it would turn out, but I was relieved that it had gone well to the point where she received her first payment without having any problems.

Besides, I was sure that this experience of working part-time would help Himari in some way in her future life… Such was my thinking…

“Being that way, I’ll take it. But I don’t need it all.”

“Huh?”

I took out only 10,000 yen from the envelope, then returned it to Himari.

“Eh, um…”

“This is plenty for the food expenses.”

“But I think the food costs a little more, and the clothes and other things…”

“Well, take it as a gift from me.”

Himari wore a puzzled expression.

Certainly, it would have been a great help for me to receive that money.

However, so far, I had been keeping fifty to seventy percent of my bonus in an account for savings purposes, so my financial margin was reasonably good…

But I might soon have to withdraw money from that account that was dedicated to savings.

Because my expenses had definitely increased, not just compared to when I lived alone, but compared to when I lived with my brother…

After all, three people our age living together was a big strain on the family finances.

It wasn’t as if this lifestyle was going to last forever… It was something I looked at with relative optimism, so my danger alarm was not ringing for now.

That’s why I decided from the start that I wasn’t going to take any money except for food expenses.

It was also a convenient investment for Himari’s future. However, it was actually a selfish thought.

“It is not possible to do it that way. I…”

“Well, you heard Kazu-nii. Use it for your own sake, okay?”

I had a feeling that both of their opinions would be on the same line, but a lifeboat came from an unexpected place.

“Kanon-chan…”

“You’ll confront your parents after saving money, won’t you? Don’t you think it would be better to save as much as possible?”

“It’s just like Kanon says. You earned it from your part-time job, so, if possible, use it for your own benefit.”

“…” For a while, a troubled expression showed on Himari’s face, but in the end: “Understood… Thank you very much.” She bowed her head politely.

“Ah, I just remember. This is for Kanon-chan.”

“Huh?”

Himari took out a small, wrapped bag from her purse and handed it to Kanon.

Kanon immediately opened the bag. What revealed was a keychain in the shape of a stuffed ball.

“Wow, how cute. Thank you, Himari. But why?”

“I decided to thank Kanon-chan when I received my pay. But it would be a bit weird to do it with money… That’s why I chose this.”

“I see. You didn’t have to do that.”

“I couldn’t leave it at that. Thank you for making delicious food every day, Kanon-chan.”

“No, uhh, okay… Thank you for this.” Perhaps embarrassed by Himari’s sincere thanks, Kanon replied averting her gaze diagonally upwards.

“But what is it?”

“Tee-hee. Actually, it’s a promotional product from the store, it’s the ‘cat fluff ball,’ redeemable for store points. I asked the manager to buy it for me.”

“Eeeh…”

“It’s not only fluffy, but it’s squeezable because of its elasticity. There’s no way you wouldn’t want to touch it, right?”

“Certainly, I could squeeze it forever…” Kanon began to squeeze the fluffy ball intensively.

“It matches mine,” Himari showed her bag.

There was a different colored fluff ball attached to it. Kanon looked at it and smiled happily, “heh, heh, heh, heh.”

“Hmm… May I touch it too?”

I ended up somewhat interested by that seemingly pleasant squeezing condition and its fluffiness.

“Yes, of course.”

She gave me permission, and I immediately reached my hand out to the fluffy ball attached to Himari’s bag.

Um… Certainly, the elasticity was good.

Plus, the fluffy fur was gently caressed between my fingers.

I understood the reason why Kanon said she could squeeze it forever. I ended up wanting one too. Well, Isobe would probably lash out a storm of tsukkomis at me if I put this in my suitcase for the office… Obviously, I wasn’t going to.