I refuse to be treated like a child!
First Published on Ainushi
An unfamiliar ceiling, that’s what first entered her vision when she opened her eyes.
… At least that was what Saya could see, looking up from her lying down position. It was a ceiling with a non-conformance plain wood grain design.
She tilted her neck slightly sideways, and her eyes caught a large window, the lace curtain on it swaying lightly from the wind.
She slowly sat up, but when she looked down, she noticed that she was wearing a clean, light blue pyjamas. She didn’t remember changing into it, nor did she recognize the clothes she was in.
She tried to recall her most recent memories.
Her six years older fiancee who cursed at her, her self-proclaimed friend beside him crying that she had abused her, her parents spitting saliva and raging at her to get out.
And due to being unable to process all of this shock at once, she lost consciousness and collapsed on the spot.
(Oh… yeah, I remember now. At that time if I am not mistaken, I felt someone holding me.)
Where was she?
After a quick survey of her surrounding, judging by the impression this room gave, she was certain that this wasn’t a hospital room. Recalling what happened, she was most likely not at home, nor was she in the Tachibana or Amou’s house either.
If so, there aren’t that many possibilities left.
Just as she reached an assumption, a gentle knocking sound resounded.
「Have you woken up, miss?」
「Please forgive my intrusion.」
The person who came in, was a woman in her mid-thirties, wearing a simple navy blue knee-length dress.
She nimbly slipped into the room, and politely bowed from her waist before shutting the door.
「Good morning. I serve as the head maid for this family… the Kudou household. My name is Kusakabe Kikuno.」
「…I am Hiiragi Saya.」
「Miss Saya, I am sure you must have a lot of questions you wish to ask as you just have woken up, but please, may I begin dressing you first?」
「Dress… me?… Uh… Yes. Yes, please do.」
Though Saya was still confused,the instant 『what is the best option in this situation?』sprang on her, she clumsily yielded to it.
(The Kudou household… doesn’t that mean they are of equal status to our main family, the Shijou family?)
And somehow, the Kudou family was 『sheltering』 her.
Sure, there was a bunch of questions she wanted to ask, but it shouldn’t be too late to ask them after she’d changed out of her pyjamas and washed her face.
The main problem was Kikuno, who after asking if she could 『dress her』 was holding a change of clothes in her hands.
Up until now, not once was Saya helped with her morning preparations, so instinctively she tried to refuse with the words 「I can do it myself」. However as soon as she realized that she was denuding this servant of her work, once again she reluctantly sat down on the bed, deciding to be obedient and accept her assistance.
After returning to Japan, because she was prohibited from stepping out of the house, her hair was regularly trimmed by the servants in her room…but it was obviously done half-heartedly.
The hair on her back was left to grow undisturbed and her bangs were uneven.
Her pointlessly thick hair, left uncombed, made her look awkward and gloomy.
Additionally, the only clothes she had, were hand-me-down things from people from the branch families that were outdated or sometimes her brother Masaru’s old clothes.
On the rare occasions, when Saya had to visit her fiance or a party, she was provided with a dress.Due it was always being a ready-made rental one, she couldn’t shake off the feeling that 『The dress is wearing her, rather than the other way around』.
That is the reason why nobody has grasped her 『real qualities』.
Her black hair, if carefully and neatly combed, would become glossy and smooth .
Her strong-willed eyes were said to be slanted although they were the perfect almond shaped eyes.
Her frail physique compared to the others of her age was a result from malnourishment .
Her milky white skin that looked transparent because she rarely stepped outside the house.
Just like Masaru who has fairly good looks, every single part of her face that resembled his was so perfectly arranged that her features were beautiful rather than cute.
Even now, those dim-wits who didn’t even try to understand her and her 『family』 who didn’t even attempt to look her in her eye were yet to learn how unworthy they were of her.
「There, you’re done.」
When she felt a light tap on her shoulder, she raised her head and stared back in mute amazement with her mouth half-opened …… Reflected back was a beautiful black haired young girl.
Although her looks were not enough to be described as a peerless beauty that captivates everyone’s gazes, even while she had on this absent minded idiotic expression on her face, it was still within the strike zone of a 『beauty』.
Saya raised a hand up to her shoulder, tilted her neck, went “Po!” and lightly tapped her cheek. Only after that, did she finally realize that this beautiful girl was actually herself.
「Does something bother you?」
「… The catch-phrase 『Beauty is manufactured』 was true.」
「I beg your pardon, but your current appearance is how you normally look. If you wish so, it won’t be hard to turn you into a 『femme fatale』」
“Would you like for me to do it?” When she saw the serious expression on her face as she asked the question, Saya panicked and shook her head from side to side, expressing her denial through the reflection of the mirror.
Guided by the servant, she was brought in front of a large door.
Judging by the pleasant smell that wafted from inside, Saya secretly guessed that this must be the dining room.
For some reason, Kikuno hid her behind her back and the moment she opened the door…
「Ah, Kikuno-san! How is that girl doing? You know, she’s been asleep for the past three days.
Even if those fools gave her a terrible shock, isn’t it time we call a doctor to look in on her? Or maybe it is better just to go and crush those absolute morons already?
Perhaps if we do so, Saya will open her eyes. No no, it’s bad to act too rash.
As her dignified『older brother』, I must corner them bit by bit and make sure they learn their lesson. Previously I couldn’t act against them because we weren’t related but now I have a just cause, to protect my little sister!
Let’s shove them so deep that they won’t be able to crawl back again. Especially those Hiiragi guys and that adopted lass that got on her high horse. If I don’t show her the utmost humiliation I won’t be satisfied. Now, what we shall do?
… I don’t mind personally seducing her and then throwing her away, but if I do, Saya may hate me… Aa right, Saya! First, she has to wake up. After that, we must treasure and love her so so much that she will think everything till now was just a dream Hmm? Why are you making that face? Skirt? Why the heck is there a skirt here… S-Sa, Saya!?」
The face of the young man who thoughtlessly spoke in gusto was somewhat familiar to Saya.
He was at the party when her engagement was broken, together with a friendly-looking brown-haired man, leaning on the wall with a bored expression… Some of the ladies at the event had shown a great interest in him.
His swept back hair back then was now leisurely let down and although he seemed to look like he was in his mid-twenties, he looked more like he was in his late teens.
His hair was black and his eyes were reddish brown – distinctive colours for a Japanese.
He was handsome enough to charm all the ladies over there but it was really regrettable that his machine gun way of talking ruined his image.
「… Wasted looks …」
「…That’s how it is, young master.」
After hearing the words that Saya muttered unconsciously, the man who Kikuno called young master, with a broken heart fell to his knees on all fours hanging his head in a pose you often see in emojis.
30 minutes later.
In the private dining room that was mainly for the family’s use, there were the figures of Saya and the man seated facing each other from opposite sides of the table.
If you wondered why it took 30 minutes, to sum it up, they had 『breakfast』 first.
While they ate, the man tried to start a conversation with Saya, glancing at her from time to time but because she was not used to chit-chatting while having her meal, she thoroughly ignored him.
Well, all of this is a digression.
「Er… Let me properly introduce myself again. I am the sole son of the current head of the Kudou family, Kudou Chihiro, and a candidate for the next head. My name is Kudou Chiharu, 26 years old.」
「Hiiragi, Saya… 12 years old.」
「You don’t mind if I call you Saya?」
「Well, then Saya, about the situation you’re placed in, Earlier Ah… I think you understood it more or less from my self-destruction earlier. Even so, if you have anything to ask or say, feel free to do so.」
Given the go ahead, Saya tried to sort out the information in her head.
The person who supported her after she collapsed at the party and who brought her here was this man right before her eyes, Kudou Chiharu.
This was the Kudou house, one of the 『number』 families, and Kudou Chiharu was the candidate for the position of the next head.
At that party, at the same time as the her engagement was broken off, her family had severed all ties with her. Yet the Kudou clan had adopted her and she was now Chiharu’s little sister.
And so that the ties between Hiiragi and Tachibana will remain, the Hiiragi family had accepted Amou Natsumi as their foster daughter, or so it seems.
(Everyone is so selfish. What about my will? ….Ah, yup! I forgot that in Japan, minors don’t have the rights to decide for themselves.)
Whatever is not possible is not possible, but this meant that it was necessary to get the consent of her guardians.
On that note, Western countries were still better, Saya sighed quietly and raised her eyes.
「Enough with the civility and facade. I would like to hear about the reason for my adoption.」
They often say that I don’t act my age and I lack charm.
They’re probably right, she thought so as well.
Even though Natsumi was not the same age as her, she was quite lovable, able to make childish faces more so than Saya could.
Her blood relatives and her short-lived fiance, Takayuki were all attracted to Natsumi’s charm. Most likely they hated Saya’s strange maturity.
And exactly because of their hatred, they didn’t even doubt Natsumi’s groundless accusations such as being 『hit』 or 『pushed down the stairs』. They were convinced and fixed upon Saya as the culprit.
That was why, Saya was certain that there must be an underlying reason for her quick adoption into the Kudou family.
Even amongst the other numbered families, the Kudous were well-known for their connections to the bureaucracy . Another thing they are famous for was the meritocracy they adopt. It didn’t matter if you were blood-related, incompetent people were mercilessly kicked out.
If so, then the reason for her adoption was most likely because they estimated her to be of some use rather than 『pitying her because she was dumped』.
Chiharu felt pity while watching her gaze full of resignation and yet, it was all because of the uneasiness in her heart that he opened up.
「There are two main reasons for why we took custody of you. The first one is the one you thought about. We… No, I have high expectations of your abilities. If I have to be frank, I believe I highly need you so that I can become the next head.」
「But… It is ok if you don’t believe me, but the second reason is that I truly like you. There was a sense of pity and it was a request from a friend of mine who wished to help you. Even so, I myself, my parents as well, we all felt connected with you. Please, I hope you won’t forget there’s this reason as well. Look, I really want to become your 『older brother』」
Saya couldn’t tell him,” There is still time for you to be my 『brother』“.
Since an early age, Saya had stopped recognising her blood-related sibling as her 『brother』 but today was the first time she noticed this fact and that shocked her.