She has always been a cheerful child, ready to greet anyone who passes her way with a sunny smile.
She has always been a lonely child, never allowing the people she greets so pleasantly to get close to her.
She has always been an unlucky child, misfortune shadowing the feather light steps she takes, making them feel heavy and weary.
The first time she meets Watanuki Kimihiro, he is sitting in the shade of the sakura, quietly reading a book with a bentou set carefully beside him. There is something about him that makes her want to approach him, and she does not question the urge - merely follows it.
He looks up just as she approaches and smiles warmly at her, a faint blush staining his cheeks upon seeing her, and scoots over on the green grass so she can sit if she chooses.
She looks at him, smiling up at her with such an open expression, and her first thought is that if she sits down, soon such joy will be replaced with pain and sorrow. So she smiles back at him and walks away.
She doesn’t need to look back to see the confusion play across his face.
There is something different about Doumeki Shizuka, she knows. He is quiet, calm, steady. She is reminded of a lake on a clear summer day when she looks at him, and she somehow knows that, below the depths of placid stillness, something deeper lies.
He is interesting, and she watches him from the edge of the group of girls she calls friends. They chatter about how handsome he is, about how he is a good student, a good athlete.
He looks over at them suddenly, and the girls’ murmurs quickly fade. She smiles, and he nods in acknowledgement before turning and walking away.
She walks into the classroom and notices Watanuki-kun at his desk. He is sitting there, head in his hands and looking pale.
Are you okay, Watanuki-kun? she asks, concerned. Do you need to go to the health room?
Watanuki-kun looks up, startled, and stands so quickly the chair crashes to the ground. Ah! Kunogi-san! No, I’m fine, really! I just didn’t get enough sleep last night, that’s all. Please don’t worry, he says quickly.
Himawari frowns, reaching out to place a hand on his forehead, but stops abruptly. Are you sure you’re all right, Watanuki-kun?
I’m sure, Kunogi-san. Sorry for bothering you.
He picks up his chair and sits down, averting his eyes. The teacher enters the room, and Himawari quickly goes to her own desk, placing her bag next to its leg.
They are sitting in the bleachers, watching as Doumeki-kun effortlessly releases an arrow. Her breath catches as the arrow hits the center of the target, and she feels Watanuki-kun sigh in relief.
She worries about them, about their relationship with her, about her relationship with them. There are times she wants to pull away, to cut ties, to push them away and make them choose to leave, but she cannot. They are important to her, each in his own way.
Watanuki-kun’s smile and his open nature. His willingness to help, even if it has nothing to do with him. The way he lights up when she comes into a room.
Doumeki-kun’s quiet strength, his protection, even if the one they need protecting from is her.
She is sure that they have noticed by now - the way things seem to go wrong when she is around. How the risk of an accident is higher when they are together.
Yuuko-san knows, she is certain, yet she says nothing. Not to her, not to Watanuki-kun or Doumeki-kun.
It is selfish, but she does not want to give this - them - up.
It was only a matter of time, she tells herself as Doumeki-kun gathers Watanuki-kun into his arms. She is running down the stairs, through the corridor and out the front doors and telling herself that she could have stopped this if she had only walked away.
Watanuki-kun is still in Doumeki-kun’s arms, and their classmates are yelling for someone to call an ambulance, quick, someone fell out of the window.
She is staring. There is so much blood, and Doumeki-kun’s hakama is stained with it. Doumeki is watching her, his face taut with tension, and motions towards the gate.
We should wait for the ambulance, Doumeki-kun, she says, frowning.
He shakes his head. No, he replies. We take him to that woman.
He walks away, and she has to run to catch up. His stride is brisk, almost like he’d rather be running, but is fearful of jostling the bundle in his arms.
Yuuko-san is waiting at the gate when they arrive, face expressionless.
You have a wish, she announces.
Doumeki-kun nods. Himawari says, Yes.
There is a price, Yuuko-san replies quietly. Something equal in value of what you would have granted.
I’ll pay, Doumeki-kun says quickly, no hesitation.
Yuuko-san looks at her, and she takes a deep breath. So will I.
Doumeki-kun is waiting for her at the school gates. She smiles in greeting, and he pushes away from the pillar and falls into step beside her. They begin walking in silence.
Do you think he’s okay? she says finally. Doumeki says nothing, keeping his eyes fixed on the path before him.
She wonders if he knows something she doesn’t, if maybe Yuuko-san hasn’t told him something she hasn’t been told. She is aware enough of the situation to know that things are changing, that Watanuki-kun is changing, but she knows nothing more than that.
What if, she begins, and Doumeki-kun’s head jerks suddenly to the side, amber eyes boring into hers.
He will be fine, he says resolutely. That woman will make sure of it. We just have to believe.
Himawari places her hand on the back of her neck, feeling the slight raise of newly healed scars. The skin is slick under her fingers, and she nods.
He will be all right.
Why is it that nothing happens to Doumeki-kun when I’m around?
There is silence, then, It is because Doumeki-kun is protected against things that would harm him.
Then it’s okay if I stay with them?
That is something only you can decide. They have made their decision.
What is that you desire to do, Himawari-chan?
They are sitting together, eating the lunch Watanuki-kun has made. Watanuki-kun is leaning against the wall, staring into the sky, while Doumeki-kun is stealing bits of food from Watanuki-kun’s bentou. She smiles as Doumeki-kun’s eye catches hers, and he nods in reply.
Watanuki-kun looks down in time to see Doumeki-kun take a takoyaki, and snatches it back.
Sheesh, you big oaf! Watanuki-kun scolds him. You don’t see Himawari-chan taking more than her share of food.
Doumeki-kun rolls his eyes and pops the takoyaki in his mouth.
Himawari smiles, using her chopsticks to carefully take the onigiri from Watanuki-kun’s bentou.
Even you, Himawari-chan!? he exclaims in despair. How cruel!
But your cooking is so delicious, Watanuki-kun, she explains.
Watanuki-kun hangs his head in defeat, pushing the bentou between Doumeki-kun and Himawari, and shakes his head. I wasn’t very hungry anyway, he says.