Episode 3 Average Mark and Nickname
“I’ll return the tests now. Ayase–.”
Right now, they were in math class in the middle of getting back the answers to the midterm tests they had taken the other day.
Upon hearing her name called, Meru leisurely stood up. She went and received her test from the math teacher, Miura-sensei, who was also the homeroom teacher for Class E next door.
“Meru, what grade did you get?”
“Well, the same as usual.”
Meru answered in that manner when Maiko, sitting in front of her, asked. In the instant Meru’s test papers were returned, the atmosphere in the class grew restless.
When all of the tests were returned, Miura-sensei cleared his throat. It was typical for the class average to be announced following the return of tests, but…
“As per usual, listen to Kusuhara for the class average.”
When the teacher said that, the class members all turned their eyes toward Meru. Pretty much every subject’s average mark was announced like this in Class F. It was the equivalent of Meru having no privacy.
“Ahh. It’s 62 points, yes.”
On the receiving end of everyone’s stares, Meru faintly smiled as she answered. Whether it was a short test or a regular test, Meru always got the school year’s average. It was to the extent that it was almost laughable. In a sense, it was almost a talent. If it was intentional, she’d be at the level of a genius.
“You were completely defeated by the practical questions, huh?”
“I mean, I don’t understand them. Just writing something and aiming for partial credit is commendable, isn’t it?”
Meru pouted as she replied to Maiko’s comment on her results.
Because of this, even if Meru didn’t say anything, everyone would come to know her grade sooner or later.
Classes had ended and after school had arrived.
Meru sighed as she carried a stack of books that reached her chin. It was the same punishment as always from Matsuda-sensei.
Yuuri suddenly appeared at Meru’s side as she trudged along forlornly. Lately, he helped her with her punishment almost every day.
“You’re being punished today, too? I’ll help.”
Saying so, Yuuri made to take some of the books that Meru was holding, but she twisted her body slightly to avoid his hands.
“Today isn’t related to your friend at aaall. So don’t help me. I’ll take care of it.”
Meru smiled as she said so. Actually, Fuuga chased her around today, too, but Matsuda-sensei didn’t blame her for that. If Meru said that much, then it became difficult for Yuuri to help her out.
“What happened today?”
“Haha, Matsuda-sensei is the history teacher, right? He said that if I couldn’t get a good grade on the midterm, there’d be punishment.”
Meru got 68 points. Certainly, it wasn’t a good score, but it wasn’t a bad one either. The average score didn’t deserve punishment. However, even if it was one-sided, she had still agreed. As a result, Meru resigned herself to her fate and accepted the punishment.
“Isn’t that a little high-handed?”
“Riiiight? Tell him that the next time you see him.”
Meru said with a wry smile. Yuuri nodded and their conversation stopped there, or it should have, but he once again reached out to grab half of her books.
Meru stared at Yuuri with a troubled expression. Facing her, Yuuri’s expression didn’t change.
“I can’t ignore someone in trouble. It’s a teaching from my grandfather.”
At those words that sounded like an excuse after the fact, Meru couldn’t help letting out a chuckle.
“Haha, that’s a good teaching, isn’t it?”
“And so, please let me take half of it.”
Since Yuuri pushed for it that much, Meru couldn’t continue to refuse.
Meru said, handing half of the books over to him.
“But Kusuhara-san, you seem like someone who would get good grades.”
“Really? Maybe it’s because I look intelligent.”
Meru said, smiling thinly.
“Juuuust kidding. It’s actually just like I said earlier, I’m not like that at all.”
Meru told him, staring straight ahead.
Yuuri stopped talking there, too.
From the start, Meru wasn’t someone who was good at holding a conversation. It seemed like Yuuri was that way, too, so silence often fell between them. But this silence was just a little bit uncomfortable.
A short time later, just like the subject tests prior, the rankings of the midterm tests were hung up in the second year building.
“103rd place, huh…meh.”
“Yeah, since last time you were exactly 100th.”
Meru was referring to her own ranking. As usual, she seemed neither joyful nor sad. Hearing Meru’s murmur, Maiko made a brief comment of her own.
“Yours is probably a bit further to the right, Maiko-chan.”
“Yeah. I’m going to go look for it.”
“Have a safe trip.”
Meru waved while speaking in a carefree tone. She saw Maiko off as the other girl went to go look at the rankings above Meru’s.
Left alone in the hallway, Meru looked at her own ranking once more, revealing the same relieved expression as before.
A slightly high, pleasant voice sounded nearby Meru. As it was a voice she’d heard often recently, she immediately turned around.
Meru greeted Laila behind her with a smile.
As usual, he was wearing a cute outfit with his hair in twin tails.
“Hello. You came to look at your rank?”
Ever since the time Meru saved Laila from the skirt chasers, he kept turning at her classroom without reason. Thanks to that, they got along well enough that they would chat like this if they met in the hallway.
“Ahaha, yeah. Hiiragi-san is the furthest over there, right?”
Meru pointed at the furthest end of the hallway while saying so. Laila’s name was certainly written on the double-width paper containing the top 5 that was currently being crowded around.
“That’s true, but when it gets like that, it’s uncomfortable.”
Laila looked over his shoulder at the place he was until just a little bit ago and shrugged. It was like this every time, but a lot of girls who were unrelated to those rankings were gathered around them. Being whoever’s fan was completely unrelated at a time like this.
“Hiiragi-san, do you dislike girls?”
“I don’t dislike them?”
As though something about that was funny, Laila chuckled.
“It’s tough being popular, huh?”
“I won’t deny that.”
While looking at his friends in the distance surrounded by girls, he let out a wry smile. Then, he returned his gaze to Meru.
“Compared to that, you’re very calm, aren’t you Kusuhara-san? Even when you’re with us, you’re composed…or perhaps I should say that on the contrary, you’re a little withdrawn?”
Over the past few days of talking with Meru in person, Laila had noticed that aspect of hers. Rather than being reserved or confused, it was more like she had clearly drawn a line between herself and them.
His words hit the bull’s-eye and Meru let out a dry laugh.
“But your way of interacting with others isn’t wrong.”
Laila looked somehow lonely as he looked at Meru.
“We are human beings who are alienated as soon as we make one mistake. To borrow Hayate’s words, the difference between yearning and feigning respect while keeping someone at arm’s length is paper-thin.”
At the end, he gave a sweet smile. But the feelings included in those words were the complete opposite of his facial expression–that’s what Meru felt.
“But still, I want to get to know you a little better, Kusuhara-san. So, let’s get along for a little–”
“That’s not right.”
Before Laila could gloss over his words, Meru opened her mouth. Her facial expression was the same earnest one that had captivated his heart after the skirt chasing incident.
That’s why the smile naturally disappeared from Laila’s face.
“I’m not particularly keeping anyone at arm’s length. Just that, if I’m together with you, I’ll become jealous…so I draw a line between us. So to speak, my feeling is one of yearning, too.”
“…Kusuhara-san, you’re jealous of me?”
Laila returned a question with a stiff smile and ‘You’re kidding, right?’ written all over his face. From his point of view, Meru didn’t look like the type of person who would envy anyone.
But those were Meru’s true feelings. And so, without hesitation, she nodded.
“After all, you’re the object of everyone’s adoration right now. I don’t really get that ‘paper-thin difference’ thing, but…you were the one who made everyone choose ‘yearning’ out of those two options. It’s not that everyone chose it. You made them choose it.”
Which is why I get jealous and become disgusted with myself. Meru said that with a smile.
“What am I saying, haha. I ended up preaching to you like I’m some great person. I’m really ashamed.”
Meru scratched her head as though to make the embarrassment that resulted from her sudden lecture disappear. Looking at her, Laila couldn’t help but laugh. In an instant, the tension that hung between the two disappeared.
“Fufu. As I thought, I want to become better friends with you, Kusuhara-san.”
“Really? You’re a weird one, aren’t you, Hiiragi-san?”
“Call me by my first name. We’ll start to get along better that way.”
Laila told her, his beautiful hair swinging as he inclined his head.
“Is it ok for me to call you by your first name, too?”
“It’s fine, but…”
From the moment she told Fuuga her name, he started to call her by her first name. Probably because of that, hearing it made her feel slightly awkward.
“Then, Meru-chan. But…this is the same way Fuu-chan calls you, isn’t it…”
“Well, rather than saying it’s the way Rengetsu-kun calls me, it’s the typical way to say it…”
To Laila’s discontented murmur, Meru unintentionally played the straight man. It wasn’t just Fuuga who called her that way. Her mother, Mariko, did too. Just attaching ‘-chan’ to a name wasn’t special at all.
“Well then, Ruu-chan!”
“I took the ‘Ru’ from ‘Meru.’ Is it ok?”
It was difficult to respond to that. But since it wasn’t particularly unpleasant, she answered “That’s fiiine” with a wry smile mixed in.
“Oh, there’s Maiko-chan. Then, see you later. Um…Laila…-chan.”
Although it was a little awkward, she earnestly tried calling him by name. Then, she rushed to Maiko’s side as she headed back over.
Watching Meru walk with unsteady steps, Laila’s mouth softened, looking happy.
From behind Laila, Katsuragi Shoutarou appeared with a disheartened expression. Laila, knowing the reason for his haggard appearance, laughed as though he was embarrassed.
“It seems like you failed to escape?”
“Bastard…if you’re going to escape, you should take me with you. I’m going to strangle Rengetsu later.”
Originally, there were girls gathered in front of the top 5 ranking paper, but in the instant Fuuga appeared, their numbers more than doubled. Laila was able to safely escape, but it seems that Shoutarou didn’t move quickly enough.
“…You seem to be having a lot of fun lately.”
“Yeah, I am. While we’re talking about it, it’s not just me, but Fuu-chan and Yuu-chan, too.”
“Mm…not that it makes any difference to me.”
Pushing his glasses that had slipped off his nose back into place, Shoutarou cleared his throat and answered.
“Fufu. Don’t be so contrary. Before long, I’ll share some of the fun with you, too, Shou-chan.”
Hello and welcome to the first post of this blog! This is my first time doing a novel translation, and I’ve currently opted to walk a line between the author’s voice and coherent English. My hope is for it to flow pretty naturally and understandably overall while still maintaining as much of the original form as possible. This means parts like dialogue ownership may be a bit weird. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ That said, if anything glaringly sticks out, feel free to let me know.
That’s pretty much it for now. Hope you enjoy(ed)!