Classroom of the Elite Volume 9 Epilogue
At long last, the end-of-year exam was upon us.
Each and every one of us must have made their own preparations based on the practice test for today.
Sudō, Ike, and Yamauchi all seemed to be performing satisfactorily according to Horikita’s report. It looks like she thoroughly drilled preparations for the test into them.
Miyake, Haruka, Airi, and Kei.
I was able to raise the standards of the students around me. Hirata handled everyone else.
Since there were no reports of problematic students, the students from our class should be able to overcome this so long as they keep an eye on their health.
The footsteps that had been hurriedly chasing after me from behind finally stopped beside me.
“Good morning, Ayanokōji-kun!”
Ichinose approached me with a beaming smile on her face.
“Good morning, Ichinose.”
“Today’s finally the end-of-year exam. Have you properly studied for it?”
“More or less. In your case, it doesn’t look like I even need to ask.”
I don’t even need to ask to know that Class B was far more united than we were and had prepared for the test accordingly.
Even Ichinose, who had been absent until the other day, should’ve been more than ready as far as studying goes.
“You were cool yesterday, Ichinose. It was almost enough to charm even a man like me.”
“R-really…? Like Sakayanagi-san said, that was just me being shameless.”
Ichinose hadn’t done anything wrong in the first place.
It was nothing even worth noting, given how her mother dealt with it appropriately. She had just been bearing her crime as an unnecessary burden on her back.
“And it’s all thanks to you, Ayanokōji-kun. For helping me get back on my feet.”
“I can’t be a shoulder for you to lean on after all, unlike the students of Class B. But I thought I’d hear you out. It’s nothing you need to thank me over.”
“Hmm… If it wasn’t for you, Ayanokōji-kun. I think I would’ve ended up self-destructing like last year and fallen apart. In that sense, Sakayanagi-san completely defeated me this time.”
Sakayanagi had manipulated Ichinose perfectly and drove her to the brink of self-destruction.
It is true that without my intervention, there was no telling what would’ve happened.
But there were things she mustn’t misunderstand.
“It’d be a problem if you were to be overly grateful. I was just the trigger. In the end, you’re the only one who can overcome your own past.”
“…Hmm, you’re right. I can’t take back what I’ve done. No matter how much time passes, the day where I think my sins have finally disappeared probably won’t come to pass. But, I’ll live my life, properly facing it head on from this day forward. I’m sure of it.”
It should be fine now. No matter who blames her, Ichinose would probably be able to stand back up. The one change that had come to pass was that Ichinose had grown stronger than anyone.
In the future, she’d become an even more powerful rival for the other students.
But still, there were no guarantees when it comes to life.
“If you’re about to lose sight of yourself again, you can talk to me.”
“When that happens… Let’s see… I should at least be able to hear you out.”
Ichinose suddenly stopped walking.
“Can I depend on you…?”
“If you’re fine with someone like me, that is.”
When she emphasized that, I nodded in slight confusion.
And when I did, she thanked me quietly.
This was a rather unusual reaction for Ichinose, who was usually always upbeat.
She shook her head, perhaps because even she thought it was strange of herself.
“B-but… won’t you come to regret it one day?”
Ichinose asked me that while peering at me.
“Hmm, that’s right. It would mean we’d be stuck at Class B. If you manage to graduate as Class A, my classmates may end up blaming me.”
Ichinose scratched her cheek while smiling bitterly.
“Should that come to pass, please keep this a secret from Horikita at the very least.”
“…Fufu. You’re right, let’s do just that, shall we?”
While walking beside me, Ichinose stretched.
She was now cheerful and bright, almost as though she’d been reborn from just a single impetus.
Now then, all that was left is to overcome the end-of-year exam.
Ichinose intently looked toward me.
“What’s the matter?”
“You’ve been staring at me for a while now. If you’ve got something to say, I’ll hear you out.”
“You see, the truth is… Ahh! Sorry, Ayanokōji-kun. Can you wait for a while?”
Just as Ichinose was about to say something, she instead looked toward a student in front of us.
That appearance, and those followers of his. It was obvious who it was.
“Sorry, I’ll head over there for a while.”
Saying that, Ichinose left and caught up to the student in front of us.
“Good morning, Nagumo-senpai.”
“Honami, huh? You’re upbeat even in the morning.”
“Because that’s just who I am.”
Nagumo may have been surprised, seeing Ichinose with a smile as usual.
“Don’t you resent me, Honami?”
Wondering why, Ichinose tilted her head.
Immediately afterward, she realized the meaning behind that question.
“No such thing, I’m grateful to you, President Nagumo. Thank you very much for recruiting me to the student council. I will keep doing my best from now on as well so I look forward to working with you.”
“I see. It would seem you performed better than I expected.”
For just a moment, Nagumo looked at me. But he then immediately turned his back and walked off.
It was easy to tell what he was trying to say.
He had wanted to break Ichinose Honami and build her back up with his own hands. Then he’d tame her as his own pawn. That look was meant to convey his displeasure at how I had gotten in the way of that.
He must know that, on some level, I had been involved in this incident.
Ichinose bowed to Nagumo then came back to my side once again.
When she came back, Ichinose called out to me in a notably louder voice. She then opened her mouth wide and tried to continue speaking.
As she spoke, she reached into her school bag and froze up.
“What’s the matter?”
“Ehh… Umm, hmm… T-that’s strange. I was planning on giving it to you straight up…”
She seemed lost for a while there, moving her hand around inside her bag. But then, as though she had made up her mind, she brought something out.
Then she offered it to me.
“This may be a bit late now but here, Valentines chocolate… W-would you accept it? How should I put it… I’ve never given something like this before but… this is the only way I can express my gratitude, so…”
“You don’t need to force yourself to give something to me, you know?”
The 14th was more or less over but it didn’t exactly feel bad to receive chocolate from a girl.
But it’s not like I had done what I had for the sake of receiving chocolate, so there was no need for her to force herself.
“I-I-I-I’m not forcing myself, you know? Y-you don’t want it?”
“No… Thank you.”
If I dragged it out any further, we may have started to stand out.
I gratefully accepted the chocolate from Ichinose.
Volume 9 is complete. I will make an update post on the main page about where I’ll be going from here. Thanks for reading,