67. Lifelong white flag

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 Well, the test period, which was so long, went by so fast once it started. It was only three days test to begin with, so it was only natural that the test finished so soon.

 It was basically a depressing event, but the only advantage is that school finishes earlier than usual at the time of test.

 However, this was the first time that Violette was thankful for this advantage.

She was always unhappy for this but now she thinks it’s a good thing.

It was a long time ago when she first went to a shop with Yulan.

 

“So, have you decided where you want to go?”

“I’m still waiting for something …… but I just want many things! I’m not sure yet, so I thought I’d just wander around and see what’s out there.”

 ”Will you go out with me?”

The way Violette looks at him with an anxious gaze and her reaction has not changed over time. Yulan used to leave all decisions more directly to Violette, so he thinks she’s grown up compared to that.

 In fact, his priorities are much more tilted toward Violette than they were when he was a child, it’s as if there weren’t anything else important than her for him to worry about.

“Of course.”

 The way she smiles with her hand holding her mouth, looks a lot more carefree than usual. It is difficult even for Yulan to completely distinguish whether this is a sign of no worries or an escape from reality. There is no difference in the fact that both are enjoying themselves in the present moment.

 Therefore, he cannot carelessly poke at her pleasant moment. If a snake were to come out of the bushes, the day would be ruined. So he would kill that snake to stop ruining her happiness. If Violette is walking next to Yulan for his sake, Yulan is obligated to entertain Violette with all his might.

 After all, all Yulan can do is to keep Violette smiling now.

“The case I’m using is getting a bit weedy, so I thought I’d ask you to repair it for me.”

“Oh,……, come to think of it, many places were broken when I looked at it before.”

“I’ve been using it since I started middle school.”

 It is made of leather and has Yulan’s initials burned into the camel-colored surface. Violette heard that his parents gave it to him as a gift for entering the school.

 Yuran is generally good with things, but there are some things that cannot be said to be his strong points, as he continues to use it even when it deteriorates. He has a rough and stubborn attitude, saying that if it is not broken, he can use it, and his desire for things is low to the point of extremity.

 His parents had taken care of him until then, but they changed their policy when he entered middle school.

 We should make sure to repair, mend, and fix things. That’s what they told him. So he thought if he did that, his good material possessions would become his strong point.

 He had been choosing sturdy items so that he could use them for as long as possible, but now he wanted to choose items that he could use for a long time, even for a lifetime if possible. It should be something that will last as long as possible depending on its maintenance, something that will develop its own taste and adapt itself to the user.

 Violette agreed with this idea, and thought it would be perfect for Yulan. …… But so far, she hasn’t understood half of his thoughts.

 Thus, he started doing maintenance, but only after visible deterioration appeared. He is still far from the realm of visiting the repair shop regularly even if something is wrong.

 Even so, it is probably a lot better that he doesn’t have to leave it until it breaks down.

“I was thinking about it a lot when I noticed it. There were other things that needed to be fixed or replenished, like ink for pens, but there was nothing new that I wanted.”

“Well, …… I just remembered that too.”

“I don’t have anything that I like that at the moment,……, and I’ll probably end up fixing things today.”

“That would be fun, wouldn’t it?”

“I hope that’s okay with you, Vio-chan.”

 Once the decision was made, they were quick to take action. Following Yulan’s lead, they went to the stores, deposited their belongings, did some shopping, and took care of other business on the spot.

 At the first store, he asked for repairs, told them he would pick them up later, and left the store. At the second shop, he bought some ink, and at the third shop, he had a simple repair done on the pen itself.

“I think it’s all that I needed to fix.”

“That’s less than I thought it would be.”

“Is it? Well, I didn’t pack much to begin with.”

 Yulan’s bag is so small that even if Violette were to carry it, she would think it was light. The same is true even when there are textbooks in the bag, so today, at the end of the test, the bag is almost empty. He had brought some things with him with the intention of sending them in for repair, but without them, all he had was his wallet and pen case.

“Vio-chan, do you still have time?”

“What? Well, I think it’s still a little early for me to go home…….”

 At Yulan’s words, Violette looked at the pocket watch in her bag. The time engraved on it was earlier than the scheduled completion of the repairs. Even if she visited the store now, she would have to wait until it is not finished repairing.

“I see……… Do you want to take a break somewhere?”

 It’s been a good amount of time since they had lunch, and because of all the walking they had done, they are feeling a little hungry again.

 Yulan’s gaze wandered as he searched for a restaurant that would meet his requirements. There are not many restaurants in this area, perhaps because of the concentration of artisans who have set up store here. There are not many pedestrians on the street either, so even if a coffee shop were to be set up, it would be deserted.

 There is a place a little further away where there are many restaurants as well as coffee shops, but if they go there now it would be hassle to come back here. Not only that, it would also shorten their rest time.

 A place where Violette could rest, preferably with good sweets and tea.

 She had no idea that Yulan had listed such a place in his mind, but something had caught to Violette’s eyes.

She asked, “…… Hey, Yulan. What’s wrong with your watch?”

 Violette’s gaze went to his wrist. Yulan always wore a wristwatch on his wrist. She didn’t notice it before since Yulan was wearing long sleeve shirt which covered his wrist as well. Now that he was resting one of his fingers on his chin and thinking about a good place for them to rest, the sleeve of the shirt rolled down a little, showing his empty wrist.

Yulan looked at his empty wrist and said “I’m not sure.”
 

“What?”

” …… Oh, I lost it the other day.”

 
 Violette’s expression changed to one of dismay at Yulan’s matter-of-fact attitude. If it were any other object or person, she wouldn’t have worry. But for some reason, her sadness came to surface hearing Yulan lost his watch. Her emotion would go beyond her expectations whenever any matters related to Yulan.

“If I recall correctly, wasn’t it the fourth one?”

“It’s actually the sixth.”

“That’s not good.”

“I know, but I’m not very good with …… watches.”

 The way she sulks with her cheeks puffed out is the same old routine he have seen her doing many times.

  Violette used to look things for him, but she has given up on it now because he never cared about things he needed. No matter how many times she told him to, he would always nod along with her but later forget about it. Yulan himself has long since given up the habit of using new and better things and uses a cheap watch at random.

He says, “I don’t like how tight they are on my wrists. It’s hard to move my arm around, and even when I get it to the right size, it feels constricted.”

“I understand how you feel, but you wouldn’t want to be without one, would you?”

“Not at all. Although I don’t use it much, I need it when on campus or on outside to see the time.”

“I knew it.”

 If they are on campus, there are clocks in the classrooms and bells that ring, so they don’t have to worry about time. But it is still important to keep track of the time, and people should get into the habit of checking their watch. Time is important, and even trust is an important thing.

Yulan’s thick wristwatch make him feel even more cramped. ……

 Violette understands this feeling. Women can wear bracelet-like wristwatches, but men’s wristwatches are usually made of leather or metal and follow the contours of the wrist.
 

“I’m not a fan of wristwatches either. ……”

“……?”

“I see… ……”

“Vio-chan? What’s wrong?”

 
 

Violette’s suddenly stopped walking and looked straight at Yulan.

“Are you hungry? Are you tired?

“No, I’m fine. ……”

“Then it’s settled.”

“What the…?”

 Violette’s held Yulan’s wrist and pulled him along with her. Their fingers aren’t intertwined but he could still feel the softness of her palm.

 Following the force that was pulling him to hurry, he moved his feet to match his pace with Violette, who was ahead of him.

 Her strength and gait were weak and small compared to Yulan’s. The young Yulan had never seen this side of Violette before. He thought this person was a perfect guardian, and he was the one who was being protected.

 It was only when he wanted to protect her that he realized how small, soft, and weak this person was. She had only small hands that could not even restrain Yulan’s wrists fully.

 But Yulan will never be a match for such small hands.

 Yulan would be defeated by even the tips of Violette’s fingers, even her fingernails would be enough to defeat him.

 

“Violette, did you have someplace you wanted to go?”

 Yulan doesn’t know anything about what she is going to do or where she is going. The only thing that he know is, if Violette wants to go somewhere, it’s a good enough reason for Yulan to follow her, even if it’s hell.

 Unlike Violette, who is walking very quickly, Yulan is walking with the same stride and pace as when he walks alone. He would have followed her even if she didn’t tell him to, and she wouldn’t have to hold his wrist to catch him because he wanted to go with her. But there is no need to ruin this happy situation by saying so.

 Violette looked back slightly at Yulan’s question with a smile.

She smiled happily at Yulan’s question, “I’m going to buy a reward for you.”

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