It’s been a whole two days since then, and Ryuuga hasn’t come to school.
It seems the heroines are planning to visit Ryuuga, so I’ll watch their movements for the moment. According to the girls, Ryuuga said “I caught a cold,” to them.
“I’ve lost my worry. It’s nothing more than a mere virus, humans really are weak.”
Elmira, along with the others, were saying such things while laughing with an “Ohohoho“. I’d prefer if she remembered not to reveal her true nature.
…Though, there’s one thing I know. Ryuuga definitely doesn’t have a common cold.
Ryuuga is absent because of a “gender-swapped” body. And perhaps from also receiving a shock after me seeing that body.
(Perhaps Ryuuga’s heart also changed into that of a female’s. That could explain why Ryuuga let out a shriek…)
If so, that must have been one frightening apostle. There’s never been an enemy that drove Ryuuga into a corner like this before.
Though, I’m just guessing when talking about this being the work of an “Apostle of Hell.”
At present, I have nothing to confirm it. And finally, there’s also one possibility that I’ve been trying to keep my mind off of. I’ve been pretending not to be aware of it.
(There’s no use worrying about it. I think I’ll wait out on this matter. I should just be patient until Ryuga decides to approach me.)
…Then on the third day after school, that opportunity came quicker than expected.
Once home room ended, I left the school with a dash once again so that the heroines wouldn’t find me.
I can’t stand them bringing up the conversation of “taste-tasting poisonous cooking” again. I’m sure once Ryuuga comes back, that plan will fall through.
(I might as well be absent until Ryuga returns)
While I was thinking of such things, my cell phone suddenly rang. I was about a few meters away from home.
Looking at the screen, I found that I had received a message. The sender was──Hinomori Ryuuga.
I stopped at that moment and immediately checked the message.
I can guess the gist of how it’s going be. Ryuuga isn’t the kid of person to send pointless messages. The composition of the messages are also short and simple.
‘Ichirou. Do you have time right now? There’s something I want to talk about.’
That was the only thing written.
It seems Ryuuga’s planning to reveal something to me before the heroines get to find out…I feel that this is a bit of an excessive role for a mere friend character, but thinking about it, I was the one that saw Ryuuga’s breasts. I’m the only that has already set one foot into the matter.
If the protagonist has chosen me, then I have no choice but to meet those demands. I’ll have to be the one that’s consulted. I’ve been prepared to get involved with the main story ever since my current position turned into what it is now.
(I’m not sure what exactly I can do to help though…)
With a bit of worry, I replied ‘Alright. Could you come to my house?’
Ryuuga doesn’t have a cold, so coming over to my home should be fine. I practically live alone at my house, so we should be able to talk there without restraint.
‘I understand. I’ll head there in about ten minutes.’
Soon, another short message had arrived. When this person says that it’ll take ten minutes to come over, that means it’ll only take five. Hinomori Ryuuga can sprint a hundred meters in nearly four seconds.
(So it’s been decided, I should hurry back home and prepare some tea.)
…I did not know yet at that time, but I should not have rashly taken on the task of being consulted.
Everything that I had been building up laboriously would collapse in one moment. The “protagonist’s friend” position that I was somehow able to maintain would now approach its demise.
I didn’t have much time after I came home, as Ryuuga had soon arrived.
At first glance, there wasn’t anything that seemed particularly off. Ryuuga didn’t seem distant, and appeared just the same as before.
“Hey Ichirou, I wonder if I came too early.”
“No, the tea is just about ready. Come in.”
I tried to answer as I normally do, and let Ryuuga into the living room. Ryuuga was in a uniform and even had a bag. It looked just like we had just come from school as usual.
…I sneaked a glance at the chest area for just a moment, and there was nothing bulging.
(Huh, no breasts? Did the problem already get solved? Then, what is Ryuga consulting me for? A post-event report?)
We’ve been sitting on the table across from each other for about a minute.
For some reason, Ryuuga had difficulty trying to speak, staring down into the teacup as steam from the tea rose.
This kind of feels like a formal marriage interview, it’s very uncomfortable.
I realized that I had been subconsciously kneeling. I only kneel like this when things get tense, such as that time I was admiring those breasts or that time I got scolded at.
(The atmosphere here feels a bit heavy…perhaps making some foolish talk can loosen things up.)
However, “breasts” are a forbidden word in face of the current Ryuuga. That makes things quite restricting. Most of my remarks are sealed off now.
(Oh right, I have to tell Ryuga how much the heroines are worried. I’ll also talk about the meal they’re making so that I can free myself from having to taste poiso──)
As I was thinking as such, Ryuuga interrupted by looking up.
It seems Ryuuga finally wants to speak. In that case, I don’t need to say anything. The protagonist’s words take priority over every other conversation.
Ryuuga’s expression looked very determined.
Seeing Ryuuga in this way, that face really does look too beautiful for a man. With skin that smooth, lips that petite, and a jaw too slender, it quite honestly seems like──
“Ichirou. I had said before that…I was hiding something from you, right?”
“Of course, I intended on keeping the “Dragon King,” the nature of Shiori, Rei and Elle, and the ‘Apostles of Hell’ a secret as well. If you knew about them, you’d be in danger of getting dragged into it as well, Ichirou.”
I know Ryuuga. I know that you’ve been worrying about such things.
“However, you know about them now.”
To that, I can only say “I’m sorry.” This really is improper of me and is above my boundaries as a friend character.
However, judging from Ryuuga’s tone of voice, it doesn’t seem like the intent is to blame me. Ryuuga’s gaze is mild and those eyes don’t have a scowl to them.
When talking before about what was supposedly a secret, Ryuuga had said ‘I felt painfully guilty the entire time I was keeping this a secret from you.’
Ryuuga’s voice resounded within the silent living room.
“Ichirou, you know most of my secrets. Even so, there was just one I had planned to keep hidden from you.”
“It’s that──I’m a girl.”
…Ah. So it really was like that.
So that was your surprising setting, huh?
Well, I was aware of it somewhere deep down. Or rather, I’ve kept my eye on the possibility of it since the beginning.
For a boy, Ryuuga indeed had androgynous looks and a slender physique.
Getting close, Ryuuga also had a bit of a pleasant scent, and we never went to the restroom together either. When I got playful and embraced Ryuuga from behind, I’d get thrown off and receive a fury that was at the point where it could kill me.
Yet even so, I still convinced myself that Ryuuga wasn’t a woman. I made up the arbitrary explanation that it was just Ryuuga’s character design because I didn’t want anything weird happening between us.
Things remained that way until that day I saw Ryuuga’s breasts.
“Now that you mention it, that does explain a couple of things. I’ve been with you everyday Ryuga, so I had noticed some things that made me go ‘Huh?'”
“…That would be the case, wouldn’t it.”
Ryuuga made a shoulder shrug and a bitter smile. That gesture just now was completely girl-like.
“However, I ignored such doubts I had. I told myself that you were a man, and that it was best to keep thinking so. I had thought that it would best for you as well…”
“It seems I inadvertently made you worry about me. Sorry about that, Ichirou.”
There’s nothing you need to apologize about.
I had turned a blind eye to those doubts in accordance to my own wishes. It was because of my own personal circumstances, as I had thought “If things were actually like that, then I’d be troubled.”
After all, if the protagonist was a woman, then various things would collapse!
The heroines wouldn’t be heroines anymore! The protagonist themself is the heroine!
That’s not all. My position would also become really weird!
It means that up until now, I’ve been telling a girl about the three sizes of other girls. I’ve invited a girl to peep on other girls changing clothes.
I’m not even on the realm of a perverted character anymore. I’m just a person with no sense of delicacy.
(I didn’t want to know this…I had hoped that it was just the work of an apostle…)
I wonder what Ryuuga makes of me being stricken with grief right now. Actually, I wonder what Ryuuga makes of everything I’ve done so far.
“However, I think that this is for the best. It was really unpleasant keeping this a secret from you, Ichirou…”
He (actually, I should use ‘she,’ shouldn’t I?) picked up the teacup for the first time and took a sip of the tea.
Seeing Ryuuga blow into the tea to cool it down was oddly cute. Having an intolerance for hot drinks is seen as a detriment for men, but for a woman it’s seen as a merit.
“Ichirou, there was something you told me. When you said that you would be my friend no matter what…that had caused some turmoil inside me at that time. I had wondered if that was really okay. I wondered if it was fine to just stay as friends.”
“You’re someone precious to me, Ichirou. Only when I’m with you am I able to forget about my mission. Only when I’m with you…can I feel the most relieved, Ichirou.”
“That’s why, to be honest, I don’t enjoy it when you talk with other girls. When you said ‘I can probably see your panties’ to Rei, I accidentally hit you. When we were doing karaoke, I wanted it to be just the two of us alone.”
…Wait a minute.
Isn’t the flow of this conversation taking a weird turn? What is this person saying?
Hinomori Ryuuga is a girl──I already have no choice but to accept that. Just that confession alone was a lot to take in.
And yet, I can’t shake off this uneasy premonition. I have a hunch that an even more startling confession is about to happen. How about we stop this conversation, Ryuuga. Let’s talk more about something like the “Apostles of Hell.”
As I was terrified, Ryuuga continued relentlessly talking.
“Ichirou, sorry. I have to…let my desires loose.”
“Even though you know my secrets, your interactions with me haven’t changed, Ichirou. When I noticed that…I wanted to tell you everything after that incident in the school infirmary.”
Before I knew it, my heartbeat unexpectedly skyrocketed. It wasn’t hot, and yet I was sweating from my forehead.
While I was like that, Ryuuga directly stared at me.
From the time we first met, Ryuuga’s eyes were powerful and held no hesitation. But right now, those eyes were getting teary.
“Listen, Ichirou. I’m going to go back to being a girl here. This is something I’m showing only to you, my true self.” (TLN: Ryuuga switches from using the ‘ore’ pronoun to the more feminine ‘watashi’ pronoun.)
“Do you want to try being in love?”
“After all, there will come a day where I’ll go back to living as a woman. I want to do some ‘lovers training’ for that time.”
This was a little different from the love confession that I was fearing. However, that was enough to make me blank out.
“You’re the only one I can ask this of, Ichirou…so when it’s just the two of us together, I hope that you can look at me not as a friend, but as a woman.”
──This is dire, Yukimiya, Aogasaki, vampire, and that one childhood friend.
Your heroine routes were all closed off in one go. The protagonist wants to become a heroine! Rather than a training event for controlling the “Dragon King,” a more immense training event has arrived!
That’s not all. My position completely fell apart once again! The protagonist isn’t letting me be a friend!
While I was turning pale, Ryuuga was turning red.
For some reason, Ryuuga’s voice felt a little more high-pitched than usual. This might Ryuuga’s natural voice.
“The ‘Dragon King’ of the Hinomori household was originally supposed to be inherited by boys. So, when only girls are born, the successor will be raised as a boy. I think it’s a stupid rule, but it’s been in place for hundreds of years so there’s not much I can do.”
“However, it’s impossible for me to be a man at heart. After all, I’m a girl. With how close we are, I can’t see you as a mere friend, Ichirou.”
Ryuuga becomes increasingly talkative and doesn’t even wait for my responses.
Perhaps Ryuuga was completely coming clean, and is feeling relieved deep down in the heart. There’s probably a great sense of freedom in not having to act like a “man” in front of me anymore.
“All we have to do is act like lovers. After all, the two of us have already gone out together to many places, haven’t we? It was like we were having dates.”
Indeed, I’ve gone out with Ryuuga a lot.
To the arcade, family restaurants, adult video game stores, the adult section of film rental stores…wait, those were dates? Doesn’t that make me the worst kind of guy?
I see. So that’s why Ryuuga has been saying things like “Let’s go to a fancier cafe,” or “We might as well watch a movie, how about a romantic one?”
That wasn’t just putting on airs, but was actually coming from a maiden’s mind?
“To let you know, since my breasts are quite noticeable, I normally wrap them with a sarashi. Ah, I’m wearing it right now.”
Aogasaki, it seems that it was the right choice for you to wear a bra. We’ve got a sarashi character already.
“Oh right, I’ll make a boxed lunch for you next time. I’m worried about how you’re only eating bread from the convenience store. I’m quite confident in my cooking skills.”
Yukimiya, if I told you that “Ryuuga is good at cooking,” then you’d probably be disappointed. It seems like only Sebastian will know how your beef stroganoff is.
“Alright, I feel a little better now. I’ll go to school again tomorrow. I’ll also do my best to fight the apostles harder than ever!”
Ryuuga made a bit of a triumphant pose using both hands.
“Ah, please interact with me in the same way as usual during school. This is top secret, so you can’t disclose this to even Shiori, Rei, or Elle, okay?”
Ryuuga leans forward on the table and holds an index finger to the mouth.
“Also, I’m prohibiting you from spectating the battles because it’s dangerous. I don’t want to be seen as boy-like by you, Ichirou.”
While fiddling with the hair, Ryuuga made an embarrassed grin while going “Eh heh heh.”
“Don’t worry. I won’t lose. Recently, I’ve even managed to take considerable control over the ‘Dragon King.’ I’ll be fine no matter what kind of apostle comes my way. Therefore, this world has already been saved, so reward me with a kiss…kyaa! What am I saying! We’re just pretending to be lovers right now.”
Hinomori Ryuuga got excited and placed both hands on cheeks. That appearance is pretty much like a girl no matter how you look at it.
This is “The Successor of the Dragon King?”
The one who can use “Dragon Fang (that’s what I’m calling it)?”
(I don’t know what to do with this person anymore…or rather, I’m not sure what to do with myself…)
In other words, I might have changed from a “friend character” to a provisional “lover character?”
This is happening to such a generic, ordinary person like me? To a guy like me who’s shamelessly been repeating acts of perversion?
That’s not good. This change in policy is out of line, as to be expected. I don’t have much knowledge at all about such a position. This is a role completely outside my area of expertise.
I have to do something.
Can I not somehow go back to being a friend character?
Rather than my role being Ryuuga’s boyfriend──I want to play a role that’s more like a frilled lizard, similar to before.