I walked outside the house and eagerly climbed over the fence surrounding my house. Then, making full use of my zombie powers, I leapt up to Haruna’s veranda.
I was in a red outfit, holding a huge white sack, and sporting an unfashionable white beard. I quietly peeked into Haruna’s room.
Great. She was completely asleep. I didn’t have the stuffed horned owl that Haruna had wanted.
The sky also looked normal and clear.
However, Haruna believed in Santa Claus.
So, at the very least, I wanted to let her meet Santa.
I opened my white sack and began to scatter the cotton inside around on the veranda.
This cotton was all from those pillows that were shoved in Nene-san’s closet. Nene-san said that she wasn’t going to use any of those pillows anymore, and so she let me use the cotton.
Shuffle shuffle. Shuffle shuffle.
So, something like this?
Clatter clatter clatter clatter.
“What are you doing?”
The veranda door opened and a small girl wearing pajamas glared at me.
H-Haruna! I thought you were sleeping! Geez, she was just as perceptive as Sera, wasn’t she? But don’t panic, don’t panic! I’m not Aikawa Ayumu right now! I’m Santa Claus!
“Ho ho ho! Haruna-chan, nice to meet you! I came to give you some snow for Christmas!”
I smiled and spread my arms open.
“Snow? That’s snow?”
Haruna looked at the cotton scattered all around the veranda suspiciously.
Yeah, I guess it was hopeless to try and trick Haruna with just this.
But then… something fell from the sky.
Something white and soft… but it wasn’t cold and it didn’t melt.
The huge sack that had been next to me just a minute ago was no longer there.
I glanced up and saw a single ponytailed girl above me.
She was throwing “snow” down from the roof.
Haruna also saw the falling “snow,” and muttered two words. “So pretty…”
“Ah, Merry Christmas!”
“Why did you attach an ‘ah’ to it?”
“I didn’t say that! I didn’t. Ah, Merry Christmas!”
“You definitely said it! You said it this time! That’s gross!”
“Ah, Mer-… Ah, Merry Christmas!”
“For some reason, Santa is just as gross as Ayumu…”
Crap. Did she figure me out?!
“Well, see you next year then!”
I leapt down from the veranda, trying to escape from her suspicious gaze.
“Hey! Wait, you!”
I quickly stripped off my Santa costume and tumbled into my house.
Pitter patter pitter patter. I heard the sounds of feet rushing down the stairs.
I rushed into the living room and shoved the costume under the kotatsu, striking up a conversation with Yuu with an innocent look on my face.
“So, after we went to the rotary sushi…”
I made it by the hair on my chin. I looked at Haruna, the same innocent expression on my face.
“Hey, Haruna. Were you awake?”
“Right now… there was some pretty strange guy on the veranda.”
Babump. I felt my heart beat at Haruna’s sharp stare. Had she figured me out? Haruna was pretty sharp, after all. I had to change the subject.
There were a lot of bags stuffed in the corner of the living room right now, almost as if we had just come back from a big bag sale.
Those were the presents that everybody had bought for Haruna and the others.
“Oh, right. These are all presents that everyone bought for you all…”
“Don’t need any.”
“Huh? Hey, come on, everyone was really trying hard to-”
At that moment, Haruna’s slender arms wrapped around my neck.
“… I thought you were never coming back. I thought you were gonna stay with her forever.”
Her voice was trembling a bit. Stay with her… did she mean Nene-san? Why did Haruna think that…?
Haruna buried her head in my back and tightened her arms around my neck.
“Haruna.” Her ahoge was stabbing right into the back of my head.
“So, I kept on wishing and wishing and wishing to Santa.”
Haruna stopped talking right then. I wondered what she had wished for, when I heard Yuu tap twice on the dining table.
Haruna was lonely without Ayumu. She wished for Ayumu.
She wanted me. That’s what she wished for from Santa? Haruna did?
“You idiot… this is my house, right? Why in the world would I never come back?”
“B-But… Ayumu said he felt comfortable over there…”
“Of course, my own home is still the best,. Also… you three are here.”
“But… I’m not like her… if Ayumu sexually harasses me I’d kick him.”
“If I actually wasn’t okay with that, I’d have kicked you out half a year ago.”
She sounded really lonely. I softly placed a hand on Haruna’s arm as she gripped me even tighter.
“Right now, I’m the happiest when I’m with you girls. Of course, that includes Haruna too. So… please get rid of all these absurd worries.”
“Yeah… yeah, you’re right! Of course! Okay!”
Haruna looked up at the same time that Yuu turned her memo over and quietly hid it in her memo book.
“So, just a minute ago there was some strange person spreading cotton all over the veranda…”
She could even tell it was cotton? Well, I guess it wasn’t that hard to tell.
“S-Sounds like quite a disaster.”
“But… that was still the happiest present I’ve gotten so far.”
“You mean, all that cotton getting spread around was?”
“As stupid as always… as gross as always… Santa came and brought it to me.”
Haruna, did you really think that about-
“Brought me what belonged to me!”
“Ayumu is my tool! He’s unfortunately kinda annoying, but he’s better than nothing!”
Haruna said that with a smile and then sat next to me, reaching her legs under the kotatsu.
Ah, I see. So Santa had given her a thing named Aikawa Ayumu as a present.
Oh, the complete Santa costume was still stuffed under the kotatsu. She was seconds away from finding out that I had been the Santa on the veranda. So, I quickly used my legs to shove the Santa costume even further under the kotatsu.
“Also, Santa had given me one more thing.”
Haruna’s ahoge bounced back and forth as she pulled the piping hot Santa outfit out from under the kotatsu. Yeah, I guess I had been completely figured out.
“One more thing?”
“Yeah! He taught me that for Christmas, anybody can be Santa!”
“I certainly agree with that.”
A ponytailed beauty was standing outside the doorway.
She had her arms crossed while wearing a red outfit and a red hat. Sera was in a miniskirt Santa outfit.
“For example, even people who have faces that look like burnt pieces of bread can become Santa. That is what Christmas is about.”
Sera sent a glare down at me as she spoke. Hey, who the hell looked like a burnt piece of bread?!
“Let’s do it! Let’s do Christmas!”
Haruna stood up and raised a fist into the air.
Haruna was always starting strange things like this. Everything she started always ended turning into a huge mess, and I had a feeling that this time would be no different, but…
“Yeah, let’s do it.”
I just gave her a smile.