This is Chapter 5 from Volume 1 of the Kanon light novel series.
The text is from Baka-tsuki.
A boy was crying alone on the long bench in front of the station.
That boy was I.
Since I was looking at that child, I thought, I was in a dream.
That boy—Yuichi, had been rubbing his eyes with that back of his hand repeatedly while choking with sobs for some considerable time.
Something depressing happened, and Yuichi couldn’t do anything to help. The only thing a helpless child could do in this situation was to cry repeatedly.
How long had he been crying? When evening arrived, pedestrians passing the station increased, and it started snowing.
“…I finally found you.”
Yuichi, with his head lowered and his eyes vague with tears, saw a pair of girl’s shoes. Looking up, he saw long braids, hands red by the cold, and on those hands a white snow rabbit.
It was Nayuki.
“I had been looking for you since you didn’t come home.”
“I have something I want to show you.”
She showed Yuichi the snow rabbit on her hands.
“Look. This is called a snow rabbit.”
Nayuki forced a smile towards the crying Yuichi.
“I made this. I’m not that good at making it, so I spent a lot of time and with all my effort.”
Yuichi hadn’t been playing with Nayuki for almost this whole winter. He only did an assignment with her, and then he went off and played with another girl. Nayuki was lonely, for sure. Now Nayuki was still crying for that girl. Nayuki should know well. But even so…
“Could you take it, Yuichi?”
In her hands, the slowly melting snow rabbit gleamed with its red eyes like tears.
“I know you’ll be going back tomorrow, so we won’t be seeing each other for a while. But when spring comes, followed by summer, and then autumn, when this street starts snowing again…” Nayuki bended her body, looking at my face suggestively, “…you’ll come and see me again, won’t you?”
“What I have prepared now may look simple, but this my present for you, Yuichi.”
“Although…I couldn’t find a way to say it…I always had…been in love with…”
Knocking sounds woke me up.
“…Yuichi? Have you slept already?”
“No. I’m still awake.”
I didn’t plan to sleep. After dinner, I decided to lie down for a nap while waiting for the bath, but I seemed to have fallen asleep.
“We have to prepare for the exams today, you remember?”
“Yeah. I’ll go there now. Please wait for me.”
I couldn’t, however, look at Nayuki’s face directly now after having had that dream.
“We’re doing science subjects today. Work hard~”
With that said, she held the mechanical pencil decorated with a large cat accessory.
“Nayuki, I’ve always been curious. Won’t that mechanical person be hard to use?”
The round, fat cat looked heavy.
“It looks extremely hard to use.”
“That’s not the case. I like it very much.”
“…eh. I thought you would say something like ‘are you using it to train your shoulders?’”
“You’ve grown smart, haven’t you?”
After that dream, I was deprived of the energy to refute or make a joke.
After that, we kept silent in our reading for a while.
Since I took a nap, I wasn’t that sleepy.
Nayuki too. Sometimes she would “Ku…”, but when I hit her, she looked like she had now been more accustomed to staying late.
After some while, I heaved a sigh.
“Have you got tired?”
“I want to take a break.”
“Let’s go to a place to freshen ourselves.”
Nayuki stood up and opened the door to the balcony, waving to tell me to follow her.
Carefully, I walked out to the balcony. Though I was wearing a pair of slippers, it was slippery on the frozen ice. I almost slipped and fell down, allowing Nayuki to see my silly posture.
“Let’s go back.”
“We’ve just come out.”
I could see, rarely, the beautiful moon tonight.
The gardens and the houses below and beyond the balcony were twinkling with covered white snow.
Nayuki’s long black hair looked beautiful too under the moonlight.
“Braids…Do you don’t tie them any longer?”
Words slipped, without much care.
“You tied braids before, when I was a still a primary kid.”
“Do you remember them now?”
Nayuki suddenly lifted her head.
With that said, I couldn’t stop myself from tracing those memories.
“Snow rabbits…and the girl with braids who made a snow rabbit for me.”
“I have to apologise to that girl. Still, even when she made a snow rabbit for me, I…”
“I’m really an idiot~”
Turning away from me, Nayuki stopped me.
“For holding on to the past…”
Nayuki’s shoulders shivered, maybe from the cold weather or from something else.
I couldn’t help but embrace her from behind. A warm, soft girl’s body.
“You don’t have to apologise to me, Yuichi, for I’m an idiot.”
Nayuki felt like a good-tempered cat, staying still to let me hold her.
“No, I mean, I want to apologise, but that’s not the only thing, I…”
I couldn’t believe a sense of nervousness would thrash in me. I closed my eyes, and slowly opened them again. Then I summoned my courage and said, “I think, I love you, Nayuki.”
I could feel in my arms that Nayuki’s body tensed. I couldn’t scare her. I loosened the embrace of my shoulders so as to let her go away if she wanted.
Still, Nayuki kept like that, remaining silent.
“I hated this town when I first came back. Neither did I want to remember anything in the past. But I soon started to think otherwise, because you were with me. So I want to pick up those memories I had with you.”
“So you remembered them?”
In my arms, Nayuki said softly. I froze to her words. Though serene, her words meant denial.
She lightly escaped from my embrace and swung her head along with her hair around to me.
“It’s rude to say this stuff now.”
I was struck speechless.
“…I don’t understand. I don't understand what you’re suddenly saying to me…”
Nayuki lowered her head, cowering. Her slim body looked, now, very small.
The winter chilly air froze the two of us.
“…Let’s get back to our rooms.”
Of course, there was no way we could continue studying now. I said goodbye, conducted some useless conversation softly and left, taking my stationery. I turned around to Nayuki again and whispered, “Sorry.”
On the following day, when I went to the living room to have breakfast, Nayuki had already left the house.
“She said she didn’t have time to practice after school because of the exams, so she left earlier for the practice.”
Despite it came from Akiko, I knew at the spot it was a lie.
It was only an excuse to avoid me.
This was the first time I went to school alone since living in their house.
During lunch break, even though the few of us went to the cafeteria for lunch as usual, the only thing I said with Nayuki was “Do you want jam?” and “Yes”. Kaori and Kitagawa, seeing our interaction, looked at each other.
“Aizawa, are you studying today? Nayuki said she’d be going to her club.”
“If you don’t come, I’ll be the only person to be scolded by Kaori-sensei.”
What they said after school implied that if something had happened, I could consult them when Nayuki was not around.
But I couldn’t accept their invitation.
“Sorry, I think I’ll pass too for today.”
“Aizawa, if you’re bothered by something about Nayuki…”
Before Kaori could finish, I shook my head, smiling. Having told them that I would be leaving, I left them in the classroom, wondering what a secluded, typical dump man I was and drooped my head.
I tried to open my closed memory for the feelings I had towards Nayuki, but when it just came back to me, she rejected it.
I staggered to the station.
The clock tower, the rings around it, and the wooden bench.
It was the bench I sat and cried in my dreams.
Speaking of which, this was where I waited for Nayuki a few weeks when I came back to this town.
I sat on the bench.
Although my dream ended when Nayuki was giving the snow rabbit to Yuichi, I eventually remembered of what happened later.
“Although…I couldn’t find a way to say it…I always had…been in love with…”
you, Yuichi~ Yuichi should have heard what Nayuki had said.
But on that instant, the snow rabbit Nayuki gave him was thrown on the ground, destroyed.
The leaf-made ear was bended, the red eyes rolled to one side: the snow rabbit was crushed into just another pile of snow.
“…oh, I’m so-sorry…”
Nayuki forced herself to use the most normal tone and to show a smile in this awkward situation.
“So Yuichi, you’ve come to hate snow~”
The person who brushed away Nayuki’s present on the ground with his hand was none other than Yuichi.
Nayuki said, trembling, focusing her eyes on what was left of the snow rabbit.
You had done nothing wrong, Nayuki.
I would have said that, if you let me say it now, but I was filled with grief at that time, and had no mental capacity to say anything for Nayuki.
I was only focused in grieving, in such despair I hoped the whole town, along with the snow, with all the happy memories, and whatever related would have never happened.
Even then, Nayuki said gently to Yuichi.
Even when Nayuki was allergic to cats, she embraced cats without giving in any mind because she loves them. Probably this was the same reason why she still smiled to Yuichi even when her snow rabbit was rejected.
“No matter what happened, I still want to repeat what I said. So please give me a moment, only a moment before you leave…”
Despite her obvious smile, a streak of tears came down her face.
“Can you come here again tomorrow and see me? And can I give you a goodbye?”
Yuchi didn’t reply.
“I’ll be here…always waiting for you, Yuichi.”
Still, I didn’t came back to Nayuki’s and just left the town.
She must have drowned in sorrow. Given the circumstances, even she would have come to hate me. She may have thought it troubling for me to come back suddenly. But because of what she was, she came to greet me as if nothing had happened and treated me with her usual kindness.
Then I was again captivated by her.
I was such a bastard. With that thought in mind, I felt someone in front of me.
“Is it you, Nayuki?!”
Abruptly I lifted my head, but there, standing, was just a girl I had never seen. Probably she saw me crying like a fool, so she just stood there, looking at me worriedly.
Her mother somewhere away called her back to her side. I grinned to the girl. Freaked out, the girl smiled back to me, feeling assured, and ran back to her mother.
It was also time for me to head back…
Having delved myself into depression long enough, I stood up from the bench at last.
When I opened the door to the house, the phone started ringing. As no one else seemed to be around, I picked up the call.
“Is it you, Yuichi?”
It was Akiko.
“I’m sorry. Actually, I’m very occupied with work today, so…I’ll probably have to come back tomorrow morning.”
So am I going to stay with just Nayuki for the night…in this situation?
“I believe it’s fine since I’ve left dinner to Nayuki, but I’ve prepared some in the refrigerator. So you can heat them and have some~”
“Thank you for helping out.”
To tell the truth, I had no confidence in helping out, but I couldn’t let her worry.
It was simple to heat food with the microwave oven and easy even for someone as bad in cooking as I, so I quickly set up the food and ate dinner early.
It was only several days since I had eaten with Nayuki food she made, and here, also.
It seemed I could never eat hotpot as delicious as that one.
Though once frozen, food Akiko prepared was superb. But when I ate it alone, it occurred tasteless.
When I was almost finished, I left a note for Nayuki on the table.
Akiko don't seem to be coming back today. I have finished my dinner. Yuichi.
It sounded pale, but I had wrote everything needed.
Having climbed to the second floor, I lay flat on the bed.
I had hardly spoken anything with Nayuki for this entire day.
Would this continue till spring? Then everything would be meaningless. Should I wait for tomorrow, say an apology to Nayuki and remain cousins?
…How could anyone just change their feelings immediately?
Rolling around and glancing at the table, I found the mountain of books I hadn’t touched.
If I stayed like this, my exam starting tomorrow would…
In a shriek, I sprang up. Was it really tomorrow?!
“I’m a goner.”
Even if I start now, everything was too late. But I still decided to revise some of the subjects I was good at. Studying was also a nice way to turn away from thinking about Nayuki. Even when I heard her voice, I remained in my room and, quite rarely, concentrated in front of the table.
Then, after some time…
Having heard knocking sounds, I opened the door.
But there was no one there.
When I got back into the room, those knocking sounds came again.
Looking closesly, I could see, on the balcony beyond the half-opened curtains, Nayuki was standing there, puffing white air. So the balcony was connected to this room and Nayuki’s.
I immediately opened the door to the balcony.
“Can I come in?”
“Please come in now. It’s cold, isn’t it?”
I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to embrace her shoulders with my hand, but I suppressed myself in a flurry and refrained.
“This is my first time coming to your room. I thought it would be very messy, but it’s the opposite.”
“There wasn’t really much to take out. Everything’s still inside the paper box.”
“Take a seat anywhere you like…but there’s not even a mat around. Okay, I don’t mind you sitting on my bed.”
Nayuki sat on the edge of the bed. I then sat leaning on the back of the chair.
If she came in uninvited, she should have had something to talk about, but she just sat there, still and silent.
Unable to bear the atmosphere, I tried finding something to talk about.
“You always wear this jacket, uh?”
Nayuki wore a cat-patterned jacket on her cat-paw-stamped pajamas.
“Because I love this jacket.”
“I can guess.”
“It’s a jacket with kittens on it.”
“I know just by seeing it.”
“This kitten is called ‘Strawberry’, and this one ‘Melon’.”
Nayuki pointed to the kittens on her jacket.
“This one over here is ‘Grape’, and the one beside it ‘Cucumber’.”
“Please don’t tell me they all have names.”
“Yes, they do.”
Nayuki nodded. Every one of them had fruit names, and without any special adjectives. This was her style indeed. I couldn’t help laughing.
“Is this weird?”
She smiled, her cheeks a bit of red.
“Not at all.”
I was satisfied enough to see her smiling, at last.
But then she suddenly became serious.
After our conversation, she probably had the courage to talk about it. She softly gripped the hand on her knee and started talking softly.
“I was shocked yesterday night.”
“You don’t have to apologise,” Nayuki said, shaking her head.
“I’ve never thought I would be struck with such a confession. I always…I always thought you had forgotten what happened that winter.”
The chair supporting my arm creaked.
“I had once thought, once hoped it would be remembered. They were precious memories you and I had, but when you really remembered, the feeling I had at that time, occurred to me as if they happened just yesterday. I had no idea in how to react.”
“I have been thinking about it, since then.”
She added a bit more strength to her gripping hand.
“Although I’m not smart, I have been thinking about it for this whole day~ I had been thinking about what the past things residing in my heart were.”
I simply nodded, urging her to continue. While thinking about it, Nayuki slowly spoke her mind.
“Do I want to apologise to Yuichi? Do I need to at least help remember since Yuichi forgot about it?”
“Then I got an answer I’m pleased with.”
Her head drooped, she stared straight into me.
“Seven strawberry parfaits.”
Her eyes smiled. I must have looked stupid to her sudden declaration.
“And I’ll forgive you.”
forgive you for once making me wait.
I stood up from the chair.
“This is special service only for you, Yuichi.”
Naturally, I sat on the bed beside Nayuki.
The distance between us was enough for our hands to touch.
“I still love you…even now.”
The two of us lay on the bed, and embraced each other silently for a good while.
I played around with her hair, pretending to comb it with my fingers.
“Don’t keep staring at me~” Nayuki said, then lowering her head, sometimes shaking her body and moaning in my arms.
“…tonight…can I…just sleep here?”
I answered Nayuki, smiling, “But you have to wake up obediently tomorrow. If Akiko still isn’t around, tomorrow we’ll need…”
Abruptly I lowered my head in dejection.
“Right, we’ve almost forgotten after all that great stuff has happened. We have exams tomorrow…”
Nayuki asked, neglecting my worn out look.
“Do you still have to ask?”
I embraced her tightly.
Not long after, Nayuki fell in deep sleep easily, as usual.
Even though I was really worried about the exams, I had no urge to start working now, so I let myself fall into deep sleep as well.
Then I dreamed again.
Among the white world, I could only hear the sound calling forth me.
It was either mist or a whole scene of snow.
Yuichi, it’s great I’ve found it:
The important thing, as well as the important person.
Among the white, fluttering canvas, I could only ask with my voice, or perhaps with my consciousness.
I have been looking at you, Yuichi.
I have always been at your side in the memories you left me.
So you won’t be lonely…so I won’t be lonely.
But it doesn’t matter any longer, does it? Yuichi.
So I’m giving the last shard of memory in my hand back to you, Yuichi.
Even if I give it back to you, you won’t cry again, right?
Even if I have to disappear from here…