Chapter 19:

Episode 19- Ring in the New Year

My Friend is a Harem Protagonist [Short]

January 1st, a Casual Sunday.

Finals were behind us. I placed well in the top ten again. Everyone passed, that is what really matters. Christmas was a large party with everyone, which was beaten by the party the next day for Saki’s birthday. Our winter break started off well to say the least.

I had spent all the time I could studying. I wasn't really studying for myself, I was helping Daichi study. He was getting it, I was confident that he would be able to pass his exam with no issue. Now that we were in January it began to sink in just how close the exams are.

However, today was a day to relax. I sat in Daichi’s living room. I had talked with his mother while we waited for Daichi to finish getting ready to go. Once he was ready the two of us began our trek to the shrine.

Normally, the tradition was for Daichi, Aoi, and I to go to the shrines together. However, Aoi had gone to meet with the girls to all go together. I was certain they would all be dressed up in Kimonos. I was eager to see Kioko in one, but I didn't get my hopes up.

The shrine sat atop a hill and was the largest in the area. The place was packed with people, all waiting patiently for their chance to pray.

“So should we wait for everyone else then get in line?” Daichi asked. We all made plans to go out to eat after we finished at the shrine.

“Nah, we just will wait for them after they finish.” I said, getting in line.

“Fair.” Daichi said.

“Yo, Riku, Daichi.” Ren said. He came up the hill to meet us.

“Surprised to see you without your other half.” I teased. “Join us in line.”

“She is with the others.” Ren sighed. “We aren't together all the time.”

You may not notice, but he is correct. They were together alot, but not as much as you would think.

“What are you going to pray for?” Ren asked us.

“Good Luck on my exams.” Daichi laughed.

“Please get a Love Charm while you're here.” I said. I am glad he was focused on his exams but please pray for some love help.

“Oh that sounds like a good idea.” Ren said. “We should all get one.”

“Sure I will then.” Daichi said.

Ren, I love you. Seriously, if I had offered the idea alone Daichi might not have accepted, or would have fought it. Since Ren agreed that we all should get one it made it a group activity. It's been weird how nice Ren had been to Daichi since he and Toshi got together.

We were near the front of the line at this point when I spotted two familiar faces.

Izumi wore a black kimono with red lines running all over it. Himiko wore a brown kimono that I swear had dog prints. Or maybe it was like a rorschach where because I want to see it I do see it.

“Well well Devil king.” Izumi said to me. “I had not expected to see your presents on these holy grounds.”

“Even the darkest of dark lords come to the shrine at the beginning of the year.” I stated.

“It's a pleasure to see you all today.” Himiko said with a bow.

“You two here together?” Daichi asked.

“Yes, we were going to come with some other members of the school council, however they had to cancel at the last minute.” Himiko said with a sigh.

“Himi-Himi!” Izumi said, tugging on Himiko’s kimono. “Lets go, I want charms!”

“Himi-Himi?” I asked, holding back a laugh.

“It's a nickname!” Himiko said, her face turning a bright red as Izumi pulled her away.

“Man, it's so strange to see her like that.” Ren said.

“I know what you mean, she usually acts so uptight.” Daichi said. “Glad to see her acting more normal now.”

“She has always been normal. It's the student council part that is an act.” I stated.

We reached the shrine and made our prayers. I would tell you what I asked for, however that will remain between the gods and I.

We found the girls some ways back in the line. As expected they were all in Kimonos. Kioko’s looked like a bamboo forest with panda faces on it.

“Cute right?” Kioko said, waving her hands up to show me the full thing.

“It is.” I said, taking note that she was still wearing her necklace. I still had mine on of course. “Well be waiting for you all, come find us when you're done okay?”

The girls nodded and we separated from them. We waited along a pillar when I spotted Himiko and Izumi coming by. Izumi had a hand full of charms and Himiko was stuck with the over flow.

“Riku, I got you some!” Izumi said, handing me a random assortment of charms. “This one will give you plus five whole Intelligence point!”

“It's a good luck charm for education.” Himiko sighed.

“This one will increase your strength ten fold!”


“Oh and this one will boost your chances at finding love in the new year!”

“That one was actually correct.”

“Thank you Izumi.” I said, taking the charms.

Daichi, Ren, and Izumi began to joke as she handed them charms as well. Ren taking the Athletics one and Daichi taking the Education one. I also forced them both to take a love charm as well and promised to pay Izumi back later.

“Hey Riku.” Himiko said. “Could you talk with me for a minute?”

I nodded and followed her, excusing myself from the group.

Even at a busy shrine there were areas that were more isolated then you would expect. We found one such spot behind a side temple and faced each other.

“Okay so.” Himiko began. I spotted a charm in her hand, and a red face. “Its just. So. I'm not good at these things.”

“What things exactly?” I asked.

Himiko waved her hands around wildly. “These, it doesn't make logical sense to me. I struggle to understand this stuff, so just bare with me.”

I smiled. “Sure, i'm all ears.” I said.

Himiko nodded then inhaled deeply. “Okay, I have had a crush on you since our first year.”



Weird, my voice worked faster than my brain for a second.

Wait what did she say! She has a crush on me! Since our first year! What!

Himiko wasn't looking at me. She had her eyes shut tight. It was strange to see this vulnerable side to Himiko. I'll say that.

“You were just really nice to me.” Himiko explained. “You are good looking, and you are super caring! I just like you.”

Well. seems like my brain has clocked out for the day. Hold on I have to get him, we need him to work a double today.

“I just needed to tell you.” Himiko continued. “I dropped it for the longest time. I wasnt the person I wanted to be, so I focused on myself. I told myself I didnt want romance till I was happy with me. Then this year I saw your name on the list of students the school was concerned with and suddenly it was like all those emotions reopened.”

She took a breath. “I volunteered thinking maybe if I helped you find your path it would make the feelings go away. Then you figured it out, on your own. Then I noticed the feelings didn't go away. Now when I try to study all I can focus on it you, and I feel so guilty so I realized I needed to tell you so that I can move past it.”

Oh hey brain welcome back thanks for staying over. Yeah, process this please.

“Wait, why do you feel guilty?” I asked.

Himiko looked low to the ground. “Because of Izumi, I'm sure you noticed that she has feelings for you, so I just wanted to tell you so we can.”

“Hold on.” I said, cutting her off. “Izumi and I talked about this already.”

Himiko looked at me confused. “What do you mean?”

“Back in Okinawa we discussed this. She wasn't sure she did like me romantically, and we both agreed to be friends.”

“O-Oh.” Himiko stuttered. “Okinawa huh, all that time” It was clear her brain was short circuiting. “Weird, she didn't tell me.” Her eyes were spinning in her head. “Heh, ain't that something.”

“Yeah, so don't feel guilty over that.” I said.

Himiko nodded. “Right, it was silly anyways.”

“Your feelings aren't silly.” I stated. “How you feel is how you feel, don't let anyone tell you it's silly to feel the way you do.”

Himiko nodded again. “Well, still. I said what I wanted to say. So we can now go our separate ways.”

She began to walk away.

“Wait, I think I missed something.” I said, confused. “Why do we have to go our separate ways?”

Himiko stopped, facing away from me. “Well. I had a crush on you. I just don't see you returning those feelings.”

I was silent for a moment. Thinking. “You're right, I can't return those feelings. You are an important person to me. You helped me alot this year and I will always be grateful for that. I will always be there if you ever need it, like you were for me. I just dont think I see you romantically.”

Himiko turned to me. She was smiling. “Good, that takes care of so much stress. Haha, I said I just had a crush on you, it wasn't love or anything ya know? Plus I kinda see it as me admiring you and wanting the best for you, ya know?”

“You're getting panicky again.” I said with a smile.

“Only a little.” Himiko said. “I did just get rejected, I think I am allowed to get a little panicky.”

“Feel free, let it out.” I said leaning against the temple wall. “Take your time and we can go back to everyone else.”

Himiko began taking deep breaths. “What now?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, where do we go from here?” Himiko asked.

“Where do you want it to go from here?” I asked.

Himiko was silent. “I think I want the two of us to keep supporting the other and stay close friends forever even after high school.”

“Then, that is where we go from here.” I said.

“Thanks Riku.” Himiko said.

“We're all going out to eat after this. You wanna come?” I asked.

“Yes I would like that alot.” Himiko said.

After several minutes we began to walk back to the others.

“Oh by the way.” Himiko said. “If you ever want to talk about your romantic life feel free, I am all ears.”

“You know I hear that a lot recently.” I said, thinking back to what Toshi said in September.

“Maybe cause you might need it.” Himiko said.

I looked at my group of friends. I looked primarily at Kioko. “No, I don't think I do.”

“Sounds good to me.” Himiko said. “Offer is there if you need it.”

January 18th. Test Day.

I sat in the classroom. My nerves were high, but I had my good luck charm in my pocket. Across the room I spotted Kioko with her racoon pencil case. She was calming her nerves with breathing exercises.

The test was in front of us, it was several sheets that could define our futures. In the city Daichi, Saki, and Himiko were experiencing similar feelings. Across the country Toshi and Ren were in their own tests. Maeko was only across town at another school, yet it felt like a million miles away. Aoi was rooting for us, Izumi by their side.

“You may now begin your tests.”

With the starting gun fired I flipped the sheets and began.

January 23rd. Results Day.

Kioko and I stood outside the school. Our results were posted on a large board for everyone to see. We both looked for our numbers. I was student 1534, Kioko was 1498. We scanned the board, our hopes in our throats.

“I found mine!” Kioko said sharply. I had just spotted hers as well. We looked at the results together. “I did it!”

Kioko sounded excited, but we both held off on celebrations. We continued to look until we both spotted 1534. I dont know why, but I grasped Kioko’s hand tightly. Was this how she felt that night at her school on Halloween? I was scared to look, yet with her hand in mine I felt confident enough to look.

“I got in.” I said in complete disbelief. “I did it!”

I turned to Kioko and she jumped into my arms. We hugged, spinning in a circle in excitement. I held Kioko for a long while, taking in the victory.

That night we all met up at a local restaurant to celebrate. Toshi and Ren would be gone for another day, but had reported passing grades.

“We all did it!” Saki said loudly. It was the strangest thing I had seen.

“I just barely made it.” Daichi said, his face full of smiles.

“Congrats to everyone!” Aoi said, hugging Daichi and Saki. “I am so proud of you all.”

We all celebrated till the restaurant closed. This was it, the turning point. There wasn't much time left, our third year was officially coming to an end.

I watched Kioko leave, heading home alone. It was almost over, this high school Rom Com was reaching its final stages wasn't it? What was going to happen in March? Was my story truly going to end?

Daichi patted my back, signaling me to follow him. No, my story isn't over. Not yet at least. I still have so much to do. WIth that, I gave Kioko one last look before I headed off with Daichi. I was so happy I had so many amazing people in my life.

Well Well Mortals. That is right it is I the great Night Queen Izumi Arai! Here for the next episode preview! Sickness takes us all, and the only one strong enough to paralyze this being of immeasurable power is the Flu! That sucks since it's Valentine's day, oh well I wasn't missing much anyways. Next time, Pity Chocolate.