Book Buddies - Hinata Shizuka

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You decided to prioritize your relationship with Hinata next, since Kimiko was a jerk and Oshiro wanted nothing to do with you. Plus, it turned out the two of you had Study Hall together! You never noticed because she spent all of her free time in the library.

"How did you do it?" She asked in a hushed tone as you both walked out of the cafeteria. Minoru was not too far up ahead, along with the Terrible Two, as you had dubbed Oshiro and Kimiko.

"Sorry, what?"

"How did you get Minoru to like you so much?"

You blinked in confusion. That was a good question. How did you do it? You weren't even sure yourself and now you needed to explain it to a third party.

"Uh, I got sick this weekend and Minoru took care of me."

Surprisingly, she hummed and nodded as if that in any way made sense.

"How did you become friends with her?"

You didn't mean for it to sound as accusatory as it did. You were just curious, that's all. You recognized why Minoru kept the Terrible Two close to her despite their bad reputations. A queen had ample need of a black knight and a court jester.

You never understood why Hinata was included in their group, outside of plot reasons.

"Oh, I thought everybody knew. Um... In middle school, I broke both of my legs. I was in a wheelchair for six months. Minoru stayed by my side the entire time... She was lovely, an absolute godsend."

Ah, so she was Minoru's pet as well.

Despite how lovely Minoru was, it was obviously not a time Hinata liked reliving. At the very mention of it, her rosy cheeks suddenly paled and her eyes went wide and weepy.

That... Made a lot of sense, though. When you were the player and not Aina Sato, you had unlocked Minoru's route by breaking your arm. She went from distant to doting overnight. She would walk you to class every day, carrying your books like a good little girl.

It was obvious that Minoru was the mom friend of the group. She had the capacity to be both strict and stern as well as gentle and kind. She kept the group together and out of too much mischief.

After all, any other Student Council President would have cracked down on troublemakers like Oshiro and Kimiko already.

"Did Oshiro and Kimiko give you a hard time when Hinoru started being friendly with you?" Because they certainly don't like me, went unspoken but hung in the air like smoke.

"They... Still give me a hard time," Hinata admitted in a guilty tone, as if she had done something wrong. Which was impossible. Oshiro and Kimiko were just assholes. "Even Kimiko, who joined the group after me."

That wasn't good. Hinata had been working on becoming friends with those two for years and they weren't any closer? You had a little more than a month before the main character appeared.

She must have read your worried expression because then she said, "But don't worry! Minoru will stop them from doing anything too bad to you. Or... Or at least be a shoulder to cry on after they do it." She sounded like she was on the verge of tears.

It made you wonder just what the Terrible Two had done to poor, little Hinata in the past. Just the thought made you want to throw hands with the two girls, although doing so would definitely end with you having your ass handed to you.

"Well, that ends today! Now that you and I are friends, we can stick up for one another, have each other's backs!"

As a gesture of goodwill, you took her hand and gave it a playful squeeze. She turned cherry-red and jerked as if you had just electrocuted her.

"Ye... Yeah."

...

You found the best way to get Hinata to open up was to talk about books. The first thing she asked you when you plopped down in the lounge chair next to her in the library was what kind of books you liked.

You scratched the back of your neck awkwardly. It had been so long since you read something other than fanfiction and webnovels. Better go with the genre you usually perused there.

"I like horror and romance. Like, in the same book. I find the combination of the two fascinating."

"I love romance!" She gushed in a normal speaking voice. It was practically a shout coming from her. "Especially romance set in a historical setting. I'm rereading all the Bridgerton books right now."

"Why don't we read them together?" You suggested with a soft clap of your hands. "It'll be like our own little book club. Just me and you!" You would read a dozen boring old historical novels if it got you closer to Hinata. One was definitely doable.

"You don't have to!" She sounded like someone had her in a chokehold. Her blushed face was absolutely adorable.

"I know I don't have to, Hinata. I want to! Do you have the first book with you? We can start right now."

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