Chapter 15:


Third and Final Time

Four weeks had passed since Hinata became my girlfriend.
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On the way home from the pool, we told Inori and Kana who congratulated us, but we asked them to keep it a secret for now.Bookmark here

More accurately, I did, and Hinata just accepted that.Bookmark here

“Why can’t we at least tell Rei?”Bookmark here

“…We can, just…not right now.”Bookmark here

My girlfriend smiled at me and kissed my cheek. “Okay, if that’s what you want.”Bookmark here

So, we kept our relationship a secret from everyone else.Bookmark here

Why?Bookmark here

Our classmates might have accepted us, but what would the rest of the school say?Bookmark here

What about our parents?Bookmark here

Hinata’s might be supportive, but I didn’t know if mine would be.Bookmark here

In my two previous lives, my parents thought I was straight.Bookmark here

They had been so supportive of me in all of my lives, yet I was still scared to tell them.Bookmark here

What if this was the one thing they could never support?Bookmark here

What if they called it unnatural or wrong?Bookmark here

I…don’t know if I’d ever be able to take that.Bookmark here

So, in public, we acted the same way we always had, and only unwinding when we were truly alone.Bookmark here

Every week, we had two sleepovers, one round mine and one round Hinata’s.Bookmark here

My parents were surprised, at first, that I had invited a friend around, but I played it off as we just always met up round other people’s houses.Bookmark here

Mum and Dad hit it off with Hinata almost immediately as they shared stories, many of them embarrassing. The worst instance was when my mum started taking out photo albums, including many from when I was very small.Bookmark here

Hinata kept screaming about how cute I was whilst I cringed in the corner, begging my dad to stop my mum.Bookmark here

Sadly, he refused with a gentle smile.Bookmark here

When summer vacation ended, one other thing had changed - we started hanging out with Rei and his friends more.Bookmark here

After talking it through with both Rei and Hinata, I said that I didn’t want to force a wedge between friends or have people make a fuss for me, so they both reluctantly agreed on a trial basis.Bookmark here

I imagine they thought I was pushing myself too hard to change, but I assured them this is what I wanted to do.Bookmark here

No longer would I be bound by the past.Bookmark here

I would make male friends.Bookmark here

So, we decided to test the waters.Bookmark here

Once a week, we would all hang out together after school.Bookmark here

It had to be on days where we weren’t at clubs and, thankfully, the archery club only met up three times a week; that’s why Hinata and I could continue our two weekly sleepovers even once we were back at school.Bookmark here

Everyone’s schedules allowed us to hang out on Thursdays only, which I was okay with.Bookmark here

I wanted to change, but I knew that it wouldn’t just happen with the snap of my fingers.Bookmark here

It’d take time and I’d have to slowly get used to being around boys again.Bookmark here

I had sort of gotten comfortable with Rei, though I preferred to speak to him with one of the girls at my side.Bookmark here

In fact, when our first afterschool hangout began, Hinata never once left my side.Bookmark here

She held my hand and/or arm tightly and refused to let me go.Bookmark here

Rei also kept giving me courteous glances to make sure I was feeling okay, but I couldn’t help feel a bit self-conscious about the whole thing.Bookmark here

I was happy to link arms with my girlfriend but having multiple people constantly looking out for me was really embarrassing, and it made me feel bad.Bookmark here

They were doing so much to make sure I was okay, and I couldn’t offer them much in return.Bookmark here

Well, not that I can talk.Bookmark here

My eyes kept finding themselves on someone the entire time - Ryuuji.Bookmark here

The Ryuuji before me - he wasn’t the one I’d know, a point I had hammered into myself multiple times before, yet it still didn’t sit properly.Bookmark here

After the volleyball game, I vowed to face him properly and that’s just what I’m going to do.Bookmark here

I made sure to share at least a few pleasantries with each of the boys, but I made an extra bit of effort with Ryuuji.Bookmark here

Whenever I saw him laugh or smile, I was reminded of who he used to be.Bookmark here

I was reminded of why I had fallen for him once before.Bookmark here

Of course, I didn’t feel those things in this life - I only loved Hinata and that would never change.Bookmark here

But, despite my best efforts, I wasn’t able to keep eye contact with Ryuuji.Bookmark here

I barely managed to with Hayato, Aki and Rei, but with Ryuuji it was impossible.Bookmark here

At one point, I felt so anxious that I almost ran away until Hinata held me back.Bookmark here

“Are you okay?”Bookmark here

When I didn’t answer, she asked, “Do you want to take a breather?”Bookmark here

I nodded.Bookmark here

“You guys go on ahead; we’re just going to the toilet.”Bookmark here

In reality, we found a vending machine, bought some drinks and sat on a bench for five minutes.Bookmark here

We didn’t say anything; we just held hands and drank.Bookmark here

Once we were done, we re-joined the group as if nothing had happened.Bookmark here

Rei did whisper to Hinata about something but I didn’t hear what they said.Bookmark here

Instead, I just continued to try and get along with everyone.Bookmark here

We didn’t do anything special that day - we just went to an arcade, window shopped and had a meal in a fast-food restaurant.Bookmark here

Then, we went home.Bookmark here

Though, before we left, Hinata and I snuck off to kiss a few times.Bookmark here

“I really don’t want to go home yet.”Bookmark here

“…Me neither.”Bookmark here

We spent five minutes kissing and hugging in private before finally saying our goodbyes.Bookmark here

After all, tomorrow, we’d be together all day.Bookmark here

Hinata was coming to stay the night at my house after all. Bookmark here

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“Hey, Akane.”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

Hinata giggled and snuggled her head against my shoulder. “Nothing.”Bookmark here

“Then why’d you say my name?”Bookmark here

“No reason…I just wanted to.”Bookmark here

“What’s with that?”Bookmark here

Hinata looked up into my eyes and beamed. “I don’t know why, but just saying your name makes me really happy.”Bookmark here

“…You’re an idiot.” I lightly chopped her head. She feigned agony and I kissed her head better. Bookmark here

It was almost midnight and, after hanging out all evening together, we decided to sleep in the same bed, cuddling.Bookmark here

We had slept in the same bed back when we were just friends, but it was the first time we’d ever been this intimate before in private.Bookmark here

It had been Hinata’s first time, though.Bookmark here

I winced a little and held her head against my breast.Bookmark here

It wasn’t mine.Bookmark here

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Looking back, I don’t even remember who my first was.Bookmark here

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I remember romance novels always described how beautiful and precious sharing your first time with someone was, and I managed to do that in two of my lives.Bookmark here

I just didn’t remember who I gave my first time in my lives to.Bookmark here

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Honestly, it depressed me a little.Bookmark here

“Akane?”Bookmark here

“…It’s nothing. Nothing at all.”Bookmark here

“Really?”Bookmark here

“Really.”Bookmark here

“Then, that’s good!” Bookmark here

“Hey!”Bookmark here

She tightened her grip around my body and started laughing quietly.Bookmark here

Honestly, why is my girlfriend so cute?Bookmark here

How can being with someone else make me feel-?Bookmark here

“I wish this could last forever.”Bookmark here

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…Eh?Bookmark here

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“Ah, if only we could stay like this forever, or at least all day.” She shifted against my body to make herself more comfortable. “Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”Bookmark here

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“Yeah…”Bookmark here

I held her more firmly in my arms.Bookmark here

“Yeah, it would.”Bookmark here

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Ignore it, Akane.Bookmark here

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Ignore the burning agony of that thing.Bookmark here

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Ignore it, and it won’t hurt so much.Bookmark here

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Ignore it…Bookmark here

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Ignore it.Bookmark here

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