8. ne, ne, ne! houka didn't imagine it, right? i heard you say it, right?

houka-chan—

you really did call hikaru-sensei an enemy of women, didn't you?

Hikaru paused midway through the invisible passage. He didn't mean to eavesdrop on the conversation, and yet—

He caught his breath, and dared not to move a muscle. This was something he wondered about, himself.

A loud sigh. yes i did. i did! but only because—

because… what? ah urara-chan, don't make me wait! mou!

it's just… it's because he seems like the type of person who make women everywhere fall for him, but won't love them in return.

Hikaru frowned. It wasn't his place to feel infuriated - after all, this conversation was definitely not meant for his ears. And yet, he couldn't help but wonder where, exactly, did Urara get this horrible idea about him. Was it an impression his teasing left on her?

Regret, he realized, left a bitter taste in his mouth.

oh? is that how you see him?

i— don't know. maybe. anyway, it doesn't really matter why i said it. i was only looking out for you, after all.

well… you really don't need to, you know? i can take care of myself. besides, shouldn't i be the one looking out for you?

houka-chan—

so just trust me, all right? especially when i tell you that hikaru-sensei… isn't the type to hurt anyone - especially women.

how can you be so sure?

how can you?

it's just— i don't know. i just have this feeling. or maybe it's his features, and his built, and just— everything about him. he's dangerous to women, houka-chan - you need to be careful.

well, i happen to think his features and built and just everything about him is like... morning and sunshine! so pure and warm and inviting! what's his true name again? sungel? it's very apt, isn't it?

houka-chan! you need to be serious about these things!

i am being serious! besides, are you saying that you think someone from magitopia isn't trustworthy at all?

w-well—

or maybe you're saying all those negative things about him because you're still angry he stole your first kiss. ne, u~ra~ra-chan?

Now disbelief began to take the place of his indignation.

First kiss?

Him?

of course not! i'm not— it doesn't count! besides, he was a frog that time, so technically he wasn't—

Then something - or someone - unceremoniously bumped into his back and shoved him forward until he was standing at the Magic Room, with the two women blinking owlishly at him - as if they didn't know who or what he was.

mou, hikaru-sensei, what were you doing blocking the—hrmdrmhj!

Hikaru clamped his hand firmly on Kai's mouth and smiled at both Houka and Urara's fantastically astonished faces. i wish to start our lesson early today. can either of you go and fetch your brothers?

He wasn't even surprised to see Urara quickly volunteer to do as he'd asked.