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Chapter 3: My Sister’s Friend

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The entrance ceremony proceeded without a hitch. I was unexpectedly introduced during the guest segment, and for some reason, even found myself standing on the podium to give a greeting. Despite the unforeseen events, everything went smoothly.

Finally, I was escorted to the principal’s office to exchange pleasantries. I even had a photo taken with Ayame-sensei and the principal. I doubt a picture with me has much value, but it’s probably just for commemorative purposes.

By the time I reverted to my regular appearance in a secluded area and was ready to head home, quite a bit of time had passed since the ceremony ended.

The entrance ceremony was supposed to conclude in the morning, and it was my turn to prepare lunch today. Due to my extended meeting with the principal, lunchtime had already passed.

Ugh… I bet Karen is mad there’s no lunch…

Feeling somewhat dispirited, I open the front door.

“I’m home.”

I announce my return, but no voice responds.

Oh no, is she really mad? Normally she would respond, albeit grudgingly.

Feeling guilty, I promptly head for the living room to apologize.

Karen is in the living room, sitting on the sofa, messing with her smartphone.

“Uh, I’m home, Karen.”

“…Welcome back.”

Karen briefly glances at me, then her eyes are back on her screen.

Huh? She doesn’t seem that mad?

Seeing Karen with her usual expression, that’s the thought that crosses my mind. Still, she could be hiding her true feelings.

“I’m sorry. I got held up. Have you eaten lunch?”

“…I ate.”

“Sorry, I should’ve contacted you.”

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Karen continues to focus on her screen, not responding.

Is she really that mad after all?

Deciding that further conversation would only irritate her, I opt to quietly prepare my own lunch.

I head to the kitchen, open the fridge, and check the ingredients.

As I turn my back to Karen, I hear her voice from behind me.


“Hmm? What?”

“…Did you go to the entrance ceremony today?”

Thank God, she doesn’t seem to be in a bad mood.

Relieved that Karen initiated a conversation, I reply.

“Yeah, I was there. I saw everything.”


My honest answer is met with painful silence.

Wondering what’s wrong, Karen finally speaks in a somewhat accusatory tone.

“You’re lying. You weren’t there today, were you?”

“Huh? I was!”


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“Where, you ask… I was in the—”

That’s when it hits me. I was in the VIP seats, not the parents’ section. Moreover, I attended not as “Kisaragi Kurona,” but as the “Magical Girl: Magical Flower Black Rose.”

No wonder she couldn’t spot me.

“…I was in the parents’ section?”

“Liar. I searched but couldn’t find you.”

“I was there! Maybe you didn’t notice me because I’m not particularly tall?”

“I watched from the moment the parents started coming in. But you never came.”

“Ah, uh…”

I’m at a loss for words.

If she was watching that closely, there’s no way to lie about it.

“…I’m lying. I wasn’t really watching that closely. If I had been, people would think I’m weird.”


A lie? Why would she lie?

“But the fact that you couldn’t immediately say you were there means you weren’t, right?”

“Uh, that’s…”

Ah, it was a bluff. She’s pretty sharp… Wait, now’s not the time to be impressed! I need to come up with a good excuse.

But being naturally less articulate, I couldn’t think of an excuse on the spot.

“…Ugh, enough already.”

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Without giving me a chance to make any excuses, Karen abruptly stands up, intending to leave the living room.


I try to stop her, but she shoots me a sharp, piercing glare that makes me shut my mouth involuntarily.

“If you didn’t want to come, you should’ve said so from the start!”

“W-wait, Karen! I couldn’t make it, but it’s not like I didn’t want to…”

My hurried attempts to keep her from leaving fall on deaf ears, and Karen storms out of the living room.

Slam! The door closes behind her with a harsh noise.

I can only stand there, dumbfounded.

The next day. Classes are starting for my second year. While everyone else is excited or anxious about their new environments, I don’t have the luxury to care about such things.

I quickly check the new class assignments on the bulletin board. Spotting my name and another familiar one, I swap into my indoor shoes and head to my new class.

I arrive at the new classroom, too focused to feel awkward about the new environment, and violently swing the door open. The sudden movement draws a few eyes, but I no longer care.

“Oh, Kurona, what’s the rush?”

The one who greets me is Izumi Shinku, a childhood friend and classmate since elementary school.

I quickly approach Shinku.


“W-what’s up? Why do you look like you’re about to cry?”

Noticing the tears forming in my eyes, Shinku points it out. But I don’t care anymore.

“It’s Karen….”

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“What happened with Karen-chan?”

“I’ve been hated by Karen!”


Stunned by my frantic declaration, Shinku gives me a ‘What are you talking about?’ look.

“What are you even saying?”

It’s actually said out loud.

“That’s what I’m telling you! Karen hates me! What should I do?!”

“Hold on, calm down. You have to explain it step by step; otherwise, I won’t know what’s going on.”

“Y-yeah, you’re right.”

It’s true, simply hearing the end result wouldn’t allow anyone to understand the situation.

I open my mouth to explain everything when the bell rings, signaling the start of the next class.

“For now, let’s talk after school. Today’s only a half-day anyway. Come to my place and let’s have lunch while you tell me everything.”

“Got it.”

We end the conversation there, but I agree to have lunch at my place, which seems natural since I’ll be getting advice.

As mentioned earlier, Shinku and I have been friends since elementary school. He’s been to my home multiple times and we’ve had meals together. I’m already used to it.

In any case, it’s good that he’ll be advising me.

I don’t have many friends to discuss this with, so Shinku is my only option.

While hoping the afternoon will come soon, I find my seat according to the new seating chart.

“I wish the afternoon would come sooner…”

I desperately want to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.

It’s just Karen and me at home, and the atmosphere will be terrible if things remain tense between us.

The half-day passes in a blur, filled with my anxiety and sinking mood. Before I realize it, the first-day “long homeroom” ends, and it’s after school.

“You seemed really distracted.”

Shinku, who has finished packing up, approaches me.

“Even during the self-introduction, you seemed off. The people who were in the same class with you last year were worried.”

“Self-introduction? Did I do that?”

I genuinely can’t recall.

“This is bad…”

Shinku shrugs his shoulders, clearly exasperated.

“Well, whatever. Let’s go.”

“Ah, yeah.”

Grabbing my bag, I rise from my seat. Together with Shinku, I head home.

Let me clarify my relationship with Shinku.

We’ve been friends and childhood buddies since elementary school, as I’ve already mentioned. But there’s something even more important.

Shinku is a colleague as well as a comrade; in other words, he’s a hero.

His hero name is “Crimson Flare.” A dashing, young hero with unquestionable skill, he appeals to a broad demographic, from teenagers to mature women.

Moreover, Shinku isn’t just popular among the general public; he’s respected within our industry as well. That sets him apart from lone wolves like me. While I have occasionally fought alongside him, I’ve never teamed up with anyone else. This has led some people to think of me as aloof.

Frankly speaking, he’s more famous and well-liked than even Black Rose, my hero persona. He once showed me a magazine feature about himself.

In any case, due to some unexpected circumstances, Shinku is the only person who knows my secret.

And because he’s Shinku, I can consult with him about matters related to Black Rose.

“So, why do they hate you?” he asks casually as we walk home. His demeanor, while seemingly indifferent, instills a sense of dependability in me, mingled with a touch of bewilderment.

“I can’t talk about it here. Never know who might be listening.”

“Ah, that kind of story, huh?”

With just a few words exchanged, Shinku understands that it’s a matter related to Black Rose.

From that point, he steers clear of prying further and keeps the conversation going with light topics. Perhaps this is one of the reasons he’s popular among our circle.

By the time our chat winds down, we’ve reached my currently unwelcoming home.

I open the door, which offers no resistance. It appears Karen is already back.

“I’m home.”

“Pardon the intrusion.”


“What’s wrong?”

Entering, I notice an extra pair of shoes.

They’re new and unfamiliar. One pair obviously belongs to Karen, but who owns the other?

“Two pairs of shoes…”

“Maybe Karen invited a friend?”

“…Could be.”

Karen doesn’t usually invite friends over. To my knowledge, she has never done so.

Which implies… she wants to avoid being alone with me.

“Don’t let yourself get too down,” Shinku advises. “Assumptions could lead to misunderstandings and make matters worse.”


Heeding Shinku’s advice, I halt my overthinking.

Right, without knowing the true intentions, all my assumptions remain mere conjectures.

We remove our shoes and head for the living room. First thing’s first, it’s lunchtime.

As I lead the way, Shinku follows with a stride that suggests he’s been here many times before.

Upon opening the living room door, I find Karen and an unfamiliar girl—


—Wait, I do know her. Specifically, as Black Rose, I’ve met her before.

“I—I’m back.”

“Helloooo, Karen! It’s been so long~”

Stifling my surprise, I manage to put on a normal face as I announce my return.

Both turn toward us. Karen seems annoyed, while the girl greets us with ebullient energy.

“Welcome back. Shinku, make yourself at home.”

“Sorry for intruding! Nice to meet both of you! My name is Amasaki Sakura.”

“Uh, hello… I’m Kurozuki Kurona.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Izumi Shinku. Nice to meet you.”

The girl with chestnut-colored hair and a well-balanced face was all too familiar. Her cute face wasn’t something one could easily forget, especially after their intense encounter just yesterday.

Yes, she was the girl Black Rose had saved yesterday.

I wonder how this will go. Better keep it together…

“Ah, right. I’ll make lunch. Shinku, have a seat and wait.”

“Roger that.”

“Um, will you eat as well, Amasaki-san?”

“I called her here with that intention.”


“Got it. Just wait a bit.”

Before starting to cook, I head to my room to change. I can’t really start cooking without changing into something more comfortable.

Swiftly changing into home clothes, I descend back downstairs.

Returning to the living room, the three of them are chattering amiably.

Three beauties talking together; it’s picture-perfect, really.

Thinking what anyone would, I head to the kitchen.

I have to make lunch for four today, and I don’t want to keep everyone waiting. Maybe something simple will do?

I decide on the menu in my mind, take out the ingredients from the fridge, and start cooking.

Today’s menu is yakisoba. Quick to prepare and delicious. Cut, fry, microwave the frozen noodles, then fry them together with the ingredients. Simple, but I quite like it.

Finishing up in about twenty minutes, I carry two plates filled with yakisoba.

“Shinku, there are two more plates, grab them.”

“Hmm, got it.”

If I ask Shinku, he’ll quickly end the conversation to lend a hand.

“Here, sorry for the wait. It’s something simple, but I hope it’s okay?”

“No, no! Not at all!”

Amasaki-san energetically waves her hands in denial. Her reaction is a refreshing contrast to Karen.

“Here you go, more yakisoba!”

Shinku brings the remaining two plates and now everyone is served.

“Let’s eat.”

“Let’s eat.”

As I say grace, the three follow suit. It’s a bit embarrassing; I didn’t intend to lead.

Trying to hide my embarrassment, I quickly dig into the yakisoba.

“So, how long have you two been friends?”

Shinku talks as he continues to eat his yakisoba.

“Since the first year of middle school.”

“We happened to sit next to each other and became friends after talking a bit!”

“I see. Both of you have opposite personalities.”

“Maybe that’s why. Being with Sakura is never boring.”

“I feel calm being with Karen!”

“Haha, you guys really get along.”

Both share a shy, sweet smile. Shinku smiles warmly at them.

“Speaking of getting along, you two seem close too. How long have you known each other?”

“We’ve known each other since elementary school. It’s what you’d call a love-hate relationship.”

“Could’ve just said we’re childhood friends.”

“Idiot! I only recognize beautiful girls as childhood friends!”

“What the heck…?”

I let out an exasperated sigh at Shinku’s remark. The two in front of us make somewhat awkward faces as well.

“Hold on, if you think about it, then Kurona could also be a childhood frie—”

“Wh-what are you saying?!”

Frantically, I cover Shinku’s mouth with both hands.

Why would you say something like that? You’re potentially linking me to Black Rose! Even if they don’t make that connection, it implies I have some kind of secret!

With that sentiment, I glare at Shinku.

Seems he understands, as he silently apologizes with his eyes.

“If you understand, that’s good. From now on, refrain from making careless remarks, will you?”

I let go of Shinku’s crimson lips.

“After all, Kuroda, we’re quite the odd couple, huh?”

“Exactly, exactly.”

Our exchange puzzles the two people before us. Well, it’s a topic only we understand, so can’t blame them for being lost. I feel guilty for leaving them out, but if they don’t understand this conversation, it’s convenient for me.

I eat my yakisoba as if nothing happened. Shinku also eats his yakisoba.

“What was that all about?”

“Big bro, it’s probably because you have a face like a girl’s…”

“Ah, I see.”

There’s an odd discussion happening right before me, but since they are making assumptions, I guess that’s fine.

“Speaking of which, Sakura. Didn’t you say you had something you wanted to discuss?”

“Ah, yes! Please listen, both of you! I had an incredible experience!”

“Really? What happened?”

“Believe it or not, I was saved by Black Rose!”

“– Cough, cough!”

Hearing the name ‘Black Rose,’ I can’t help but choke.

“Eh, are you alright?”

“S-Sorry, I’m fine. Just swallowed wrong, that’s all.”

“He’s just bad at eating; it happens sometimes. Don’t mind it, go on.”

Shinku smoothly covers for me to avoid further questions.

…It’s good he’s covering for me, but couldn’t he have said it differently?

“Ah, okay. So, I overslept and was rushing to school for the entrance ceremony yesterday.”

Ah, so that’s why she was there when I was heading to school. I had completely forgotten that new students had to gather before the entrance ceremony.

“And unfortunately, I ran into a phantom, but Black Rose swooped in and saved me! Black Rose was so cool! Shielded me with her back, told me to stand back! Actually, I didn’t want to be separated at all, but I couldn’t inconvenience Black Rose so I had to. But then! Listen! After defeating the phantom, Black Rose patted my head! Said ‘It’s okay now, you were scared, right?’ I thought I was going to ascend right there and then, she even princess-carried me all the way to the school—”

Amasaki’s machine-gun talk goes on and on, detailing her feelings when she was princess-carried, her eyes shining brightly.

Karen looks like she’s thinking “Here we go again,” while Shinku gives me a slightly incredulous look. As for me, the subject of the conversation, I’m likely blushing profusely.

Who could’ve predicted that someone would speak so joyfully about something I did? Only the overly confident or those who find it mundane wouldn’t blush. Naturally, I’m neither, and as it’s a rare story for a minor character like me, I’m flushing with embarrassment.

I lower my head slightly to hide my blushing face and continue to listen to Amasaki’s story.

“–So, I made it to the entrance ceremony, but by then I was already thinking it would be nice to skip it and have tea or something!”

The words “entrance ceremony” and “skip” clearly trigger Karen. Amasaki doesn’t notice, but Shinku catches it and sneaks a glance at me.

“But since Black Rose went to the trouble of bringing me, I felt obligated to attend. And something even more unexpected happened there! Believe it or not, Black Rose attended the entrance ceremony too!”

The moment he heard those words, Shinku looked at me with narrowed eyes.

“Ugh… I know, I know. I’ll explain everything later…”

But if Shinku is as sharp as I think he is, he probably already understands what I’m about to say. Still, I do have to talk about my own circumstances and feelings, so I’ll discuss it properly later.

Amasaki-san continued to chatter away, seemingly unaware of Shinku’s expression.

“Oh, I was so moved! The entrance ceremony will be a memory for a lifetime! Standing on that podium, she looked so gallant! Truly befitting of Black Rose! Ah, but I was jealous when she took a two-shot with the principal and Nanri-sensei! I wanted to take one too!”

“Eh, how did you know…”

I couldn’t help but raise my voice. After all, that photo was taken in the principal’s office. There’s no way Amasaki-san could know about it without being there. That’s why it was so baffling.

“Eh? Both the principal and Nanri-sensei posted it on social media.”


“…Ah, it’s true.”

Seeing Shinku nodding as he looked at his phone screen, I hurriedly peered into it as well.

“What? It’s really true…”

There it was—a two-shot of a smiling Black Rose and the principal, who had a rather smug look on his face.

“This one’s from Ayame-sensei.”

Shinku scrolled through the screen, revealing another photo—this time, it was Black Rose standing next to Ayame-sensei, who was smiling in a way that seemed completely out of character for her.

“I’ve never seen Ayame-sensei smile like that before! I’ve only ever seen her slightly smile at school, so this is really surprising!”

“It’s unfair! I also wanted a two-shot! Next time we meet, I’ll definitely get one!”

Amasaki-san pouted, but to be honest, that was the least of my concerns right now.

The image had spread quite a bit, and there were tons of comments.

“Wow, it’s really getting around, huh?”

“Of course! This is Black Rose we’re talking about! Despite having almost no exposure in the media, her mysterious allure and beauty have made her as popular as a top idol! Just meeting her is lucky, but a never-before-seen two-shot? It’s like catching a Tsuchinoko!”

“Sorry, but that analogy doesn’t make me feel any better.”

“Wait, Black Rose is that popular?”

I looked at Shinku for confirmation. He met my gaze and nodded.

“You didn’t know? Black Rose is pretty popular.”

“She has a wide range of fans, from kids to adults!”

“Is that so…”

I had no idea. With this revelation, it’s even more crucial to keep my identity a secret. People would be devastated to find out that the person behind Black Rose is a guy like me with such a nasty look. I must keep it a secret at all costs…

But wait. Amasaki-san is a fan of Black Rose, and Shinku knows my identity, right? So, Amasaki-san is probably just promoting Black Rose, and Shinku is just being considerate of me, right?

“Yeah, that’s it. That must be it,” I thought, feeling relieved.

“You’re misconstruing things again…”

“Hm? What do you mean?”

“Never mind…”

Shinku sighed, looking at my face.


“Let it be known that I, too, am a fan of Black Rose!”

I could tell just by looking at you.

“I’d even love to call her my ‘big sister!'”

“Please, no!”

I almost blurted it out and hastily shut my mouth.

“By the way, you have something else to worry about, don’t you?”

“Huh? Like what?”


I looked where Shinku was pointing with his chin. There stood Karen, with an extremely stern face.

Ah… I completely forgot…

Wh-what should I do!? She was just a little grumpy before, but now she looks really irritated!

I turn to Shinku for help.

“What happened, Karen-chan?”

But before I could get an answer, Amasaki-san, who had been observing us, beat me to it and addressed Karen.

“It’s nothing. I’m not holding a grudge just because you didn’t come to the entrance ceremony or anything like that.”

“Hmm? What’s going on all of a sudden?”


Karen, clearly in a bad mood, turns her head away in response to Amasaki-san’s words.

“Uh huh? You’re acting strange, Karen-chan.”

Amasaki-san seemed not to notice, letting the words drop there.

“Well, we’ve finished eating, so we should get going,” Shinku abruptly states, picking up the dishes and heading toward the kitchen.

Presumably, he wants to move to my room so we can discuss things privately.


I hastily follow Shinku’s lead, placing the dishes in the sink.

“Ah, you two, just leave the dishes in the sink. I’ll wash them later.”

“Ah, okay! Thanks for the meal!”


Amasaki-san gives a light nod and a pleasant bow, while Karen simply grunts.

The way Karen responded makes me feel sad, but I brought this upon myself and have to accept it.

We leave the living room and head to my room.

Once inside, I sit on the bed while Shinku flops down on the floor.

“So, why don’t you go ahead and tell me? Why did you attend the entrance ceremony?”

“Well, it’s like this…”

I start recounting everything that happened yesterday. How I helped Amasaki-san. How I escorted her to school. How Ayame-sensei asked me to attend the entrance ceremony. How when I arrived at school, there was no time left before the ceremony started. How I couldn’t revert to my original form in time, and thus had to attend the ceremony not as Kogane Kuroki but as Black Rose.

After explaining everything, Shinku lets out a big, heavy sigh.

“So the bottom line is, the timing was just bad… You can’t leave people in need, you didn’t have time… But explaining this to Karen-chan is impossible…”

Shinku furrows his brow, deep in thought.

“What should I do?”

“It’s tricky… If one of us were in the wrong, a simple apology would do, but neither of us are at fault here…”

Shinku’s words relieve me a bit. I’m glad; it seems I wasn’t mistaken after all.

I didn’t think what I did was wrong. If I hadn’t helped, Amasaki-san would have had her emotions stolen, and that would’ve devastated Karen. I believe the kind-hearted Karen would be heartbroken to see her friend devoid of emotion.

So in that way, my actions were ultimately for Karen’s benefit.

But now, because I helped Amasaki-san, I couldn’t attend the entrance ceremony with Karen and have ended up making her angry.

It’s like a thornbush dilemma.

I want to get close to warm up, but the thorns keep me at a distance. If I try to warm up, I get pricked; if I try to avoid the thorns, I can’t get warm.

If I help Amasaki-san, I can’t attend the entrance ceremony, and if I attend the entrance ceremony, I can’t help Amasaki-san—either way, Karen gets the short end of the stick.

“Let’s stop mulling over what’s already happened. The issue now is how to get Karen-chan in a better mood.”

“What should I do?”

“You’re looking for a quick solution, huh…”


Shinku sighs in what sounds like exasperation.

“I mean, what can I do? I’ve never had to win a girl’s mood back before…”

“Well, it’s fine. Hmm, but even I’m not too sure about these things.”

“Surprising. I thought you, being popular with girls, would know how to handle this.”

“In my case, it’s the opposite. The girls are the ones who try to win my mood over, not me.”

Ah, I see. So Shinku is the one being catered to. Lucky guy!

“So, what should I do then?”

“Reluctantly, I have to say we have no choice but to rely on ‘that person.'”

“‘That person?'”

“Midori Aoi.”

The moment I hear that name, I could feel the color draining from my face.

“No, no, Aoi is a bad idea! Absolutely not!”

“Then tell me, do you have anyone else you can rely on?”

“Uh, well…”

True, my circle of friends is narrow, and those I can rely on can be counted on one hand. In terms of understanding how to deal with girls, that list gets even narrower. In fact, Aoi is the only one.

“Besides, you want to reconcile with Karen-chan, right? Then you’ll have to endure it a bit.”


Indeed, if it’s for reconciling with Karen, I should bear a little discomfort.

“Alright, I get it. I’ll consult Aoi tomorrow.”


“But you have to come with me, Shinku!”

“Don’t worry, I wouldn’t let you go alone. That would be too cruel.”

Hearing Shinku’s reply, I feel relieved.

Aoi isn’t a bad person, just a bit difficult to deal with.

Either way, it seems my next step is consulting with Aoi.

To dispel the slight gloom weighing on my heart, I let out a small sigh.


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