Chapter 01 – The Umbrella Above Us

"'Love is just a word, until someone comes along and gives it a meaning,' is it?"

I am looking outside the window, muttering those words to only myself. It is raining again today. From my seat, I can see that the ground is wet, and I'll get my shoes dirty later because of it. My uniform may get wet unnecessarily too.

The classroom seems lethargic. The scribbles in the blackboard are lacking in luster and the voice of our female teacher is muffled by the countless raindrops.

Among my classmates who all look as unenergetic as me—one girl, two rows, and three columns of seats away from me—stands out. At the very least, she is the one who made me say that quotation earlier.

She is my crush, Nijima Koharu, who is currently silently writing again and attentively taking notes. Her longblack hair tied in a ponytail flows gently on her back, and her eyes looking at the teacher, are always bright and clear.

All I can do from my position, however, is to admire her back and her side profile until the class is over, and most likely, until graduation when we go our separate ways.

The rain has let up as the bell rings signaling the end of our last period. I am on class duty today, so I stay behind. Koharu on the other hand, leaves with the teacher. They are probably heading to the faculty office, and when I can no longer see her, I pump myself and immediately work on my duties.

Most of the students have left the school by the time I finish my task. The rain starts to pour down again. I change my shoes in the entryway, sneaking a glance all around, hoping to find her figure but of course, she is nowhere to be seen.

But as I proceed outside the building and near the umbrella rack, I find her standing there alone, looking a bit disheartened.

She's still here! I avert my gaze immediately so that she will not notice that I am looking at her.

I retrieve my red standard umbrella from the rack, but I can't help my eyes find their way to her. She notices me and smiles before staring back at the front yard of the school again.

I calm my stirring heart and spread my umbrella as I walk near the edge of is observing the sky, probably wondering when the rain will end. It seems that she has no umbrella and is stranded because of the rain's second, unexpected downpour.

I can share my umbrella with her, can't I?

I glance at her nervously.

Should I ask her? Would she be creeped out if I asked her to join me on my umbrella? Maybe it's better if I should go home? Or I could just give her my umbrella and make a run for it…

My frantic thoughts come to a halt when she looks at me again and our eyes meet.

"I-if you don't mind, w-we can share this umbrella."

I've said it! And I don't think I worded it well enough to prevent any misunderstanding! Did it sound like I was hitting on her?!

I can feel my face heating up as I wait for her response. Long. Long. It feels like forever waiting for her mouth to speak her reply.

Her ajar lips move and close as she looks down, a little bit embarrassed.

Shoot! I was staring at her lips too much!

She clears her throat. "Um…"

I am cursing myself inside my mind when I hear her finally speak.

"If it's alright with you then it would be really helpful, Amemiya-kun," Koharu says as she looks up at me.

"...T-then let's go."

"Yes. Let's go."

I hold the umbrella aloft and she slowly comes under the shade. There are only a few inches between our shoulders, and it makes me really nervous.

We step into the rain with the umbrella above us.

Author's Note: Hello! Been quite a while! This is the first time in a year that I've posted a story again. I've been away from writing, due to studies (have graduated and now a NEET XD), but mostly, it is still due to procrastination.

This story started and completed somewhere in November last year, just revised and edited recently. So, I guess I still haven't made a single chapter of any story since then. Anyway, this story is already completed but I'll be posting the chapters one by one. I can update this more regularly this time, as the story is already finished.

Hope to see you in the next chapter!