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Taking the Reins

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Ameri accepted the stack of paperwork from one of her Students Council members, quickly nodding her thanks. She rifled through it, looking for the phrases that indicated she needed to take a closer look, and paused in her perusal. Suzuki Iruma had caught her attention. Somehow his student file had gotten mixed into her approval forms, so she plucked it out and set it aside for later attention.

 

She had nearly forgotten about it until the end of the lunch period, when she spotted it on her desk again and picked it up. She skimmed the page, noting that the page needed to be updated to reflect his new rank.

 

Then her eyes skimmed “ Birthdate: 10-4” and she felt the breath freeze in her lungs.

 

She straightened up in her chair reflexively, her spine going taut. She glanced at the calendar on her desk, her head swiveling back and forth with rising panic. She pulled out her hell phone and texted to Opera quickly.

 

AzazelA: Opera-san, were you aware that Iruma’s birthday was earlier this month? I didn’t hear him say anything, but he has been busy preparing for the Music Festival. If possible, I would like to be included in any event that you will be holding now that he no longer has practice

Opera: …

Opera: It was recently brought to my attention as well. Thank you for noticing as well. I will be working with the Chair Demon to make arrangements. I will be sure to include you in our plans going forward.

 

Ameri set the phone aside, folding her hands in front of her face. Didn’t Iruma say that the next volume of Hatsukoi Memory would include Rin planning a party for Takeru’s birthday... She shook her head as if to banish the thoughts. No, without Iruma to translate, I won’t be able to tell what they’re saying. I could only guess at what they’re doing. She paused to look over at the bookcase, where the multiple volumes of manga were hidden away.  But...maybe I can at least get an idea of human birthday customs.

 

Glancing around, she stood to walk to her office door and switch the lock before daring to open the secret bookshelf. She pulled the next volume from the shelf, and flipped the pages with a practiced thumb.

 

Hm, Rin seems to be making a list of something here, but she’s hiding it from Takeru. Are the proceedings meant to be kept secret? She paged forward, noting the large sections of dialogue that she would need Iruma to translate for her. A cake, at least that is something we can get in the Netherworld without issue. But candles on top? What could these mean? She counted the candles, and felt a connection begin to form in the back of her mind. She flipped back to the beginning of the chapter. I think I see. There are the same number of items on this list as there are candles. So the candles do represent something?

 

A knock at the door startled her out of her musings, and she quickly shoved the book away and closed the compartment. She brushed down her skirt and opened the door to admit the rest of the Student Council, who carried in even more stacks of paperwork.

 

A quick beep from her hellphone distracted her for a moment, and she glanced at it quickly. She nodded to herself after reading, a plan forming as she returned her focus to her duties.

 

Opera: We are working on preparing, but any assistance you can offer would be appreciated.

 

____________________________________________________________________

 

After finishing up the last of the day’s paperwork, Ameri’s mission began. Making a decision, she placed her hands on her desk. “Zagan.”

 

“Yes, President!” Zagan Johnny Western promptly stood from the table where he had been organizing the last of the paperwork.

 

“Summon Asmodeus Alice and Valac Clara to the audience room at once. I wish to speak with them privately.”

 

“Yes, President!” Was the immediate response, but Zagan paused before he reached the door. “...But not Iruma-san? Those three are usually inseparable.” 

 

“True, but I only want those two this time,” Ameri confirmed as she stood from her desk. “I’ll meet them there, so bring them as soon as possible.”

 

“Yes, President!” And with that, Zagan strode confidentially out into the hall.

 

Ameri prepared the common room while she waited, putting out snacks and tea as she waited for her guests. She responded to the knock with “Enter,” and was seated calmly as Asmodeus and Valac entered.

 

“Lady Red-head!” Valac called enthusiastically, while Asmodeus gave her a polite nod of greeting. “You usually steal Irumachi away to play, not us!”

 

“What Stupid Clara means,” Asmodeus interrupted, trying to rein in the girl with a gentle tug at her wrist before nudging her into a seat. He took his own before continuing, “is that we are honored to be summoned, but confused. As stated, you normally deal with Iruma-sama directly.”

 

“Yes, but I wish to discuss something... privately regarding him, so it is better that we speak alone. Did Iruma seem concerned by my summons?” Ameri began pouring the tea.

 

“No, he decided to use the time before the battler period to practice his archery more,” Asmodeus answered, accepting his cup. Valac took hers, and immediately began adding sugar cubes in an unending stream.

 

“Good, then we may be able to pull this off,” Ameri muttered, before taking a sip of her tea and straightening her spine.

“Iruma’s birthday was earlier this month. I’m not going to speculate why he didn’t mention it, or why Lord Sullivan didn’t either, but Opera-San says they’re planning a party now. I recently got a copy of a book from his childhood home. I can’t read it, but it seems to be describing a birthday tradition that differs from our usual customs. Will you both help me pull it off without telling Iruma?”

 

Asmodeus looked like he was in shock. “Iruma-sama’s birthday?” He repeated in a daze. “Why...why did he not trust us with this? He didn’t even mention it…” He looked down at his lap and clenched his fist on the teacup, the fine porcelain rattling against the saucer. “Do I truly know so little about him?”

 

“Azz-Azz,” Clara began as she put her teacup aside. “Irumachi isn’t used to others noticing him. Remember what he told us about his parents?“ She placed a hand on his shoulder, and Asmodeus shuddered dramatically, although Ameri couldn’t tell if it was in fear, disgust, or anger.

 

“His parents?” Ameri questioned, and Clara went stiff, sharing panicked glances with Asmodeus. He straightened up and placed a hand over Clara’s in support.

 

“Our apologies, President, but Iruma shared some private details of his past, from before he lived with Lord Sullivan. I know that Iruma-sama looks up to you a great deal, but we are not willing to risk the trust he has placed in us. I’m sure you understand.” His eyes were resolute as he locked gazes with her.

 

Ameri could only nod. After all, she was fairly certain about one secret Iruma held, so it wouldn’t be fair to make demands of his companions. “Opera-san has told me they are working to plan a party quickly, but any help we can offer is appreciated. I thought including the rite from his youth would show how we accept him as he is.” Clara smiled and picked up her teacup again, resuming adding sugar.

 

“What kind of ritual is it?” Asmodeus asked, finally taking the sugar bowl away from Valac, who pouted, but began to stir her tea, which was almost more solid than liquid at this point.

 

“It seems to center around acknowledging personal triumphs. I can’t translate the words, but there is a large cake decorated with lit candles. They seemed to match with an earlier list. From what I can tell, it’s supposed to be the accomplishments. And there’s a chance that a song is meant to be written as well, but I am less certain on that. You two have been with Iruma since he came to Bablys, so you are the best choices to list his deeds.”

 

Valac paused in the middle of consuming her sugar concoction, a frown crossing her face. “You’re not trying to tease Irumachi, right Lady Red-head? You don’t want to hurt him or make him feel bad? He gets flustered easily sometimes. Maybe...” Clara frowned as she spun her teacup on its saucer. “Maybe his birthday wasn’t something he has good memories of, so he wanted to forget it?”

 

Despite the accusation, Ameri couldn’t help but smile at the concern Valac was demonstrating. Others might refer to her as Crazy Clara, but the girl continually demonstrated insight that was startling. Iruma had made good choices in his allies from day one.

 

“If he has reasons to dislike his past birthdays, then isn’t it our responsibility to give him a good one? I merely want to make his birthday an enjoyable one, something he can look forward to next year.” Ameri answered, which made Clara nod and smile before reaching for the platter of cookies.

 

“While it may be difficult, I believe that I can maintain secrecy for this ritual. How quickly do we need to make preparations?” Asmodeus asked, always the more practical of the duo. Clara nodded while cookie after cookie entered her mouth without pause.

 

“We will need Opera and Lord Sullivan’s assistance, so it will depend on how quickly they can make arrangements,” Ameri noted, pulling out a notebook and pen.

 

“GIven that we managed to claim Royal One in three days, I’m certain we can work with any deadline,” Asmodeus declared with confidence, while taking the plate of cookies out of Valac’s reach. Valac pouted again around her chubby cheeks, poking Asmodeus in the side in retaliation. He barely twitched in response. “Granted, Iruma-sama was the mastermind behind that venture, but I’m sure the Student Council President is just as talented!”

 

“Hey, do you think we should get the rest of our class in on this too?” Valac asked, having finally swallowed her mouthful. “Everyone really cares about Irumachi, since he helped us get our nice classroom, and everything he did to pull us together to keep it during the Music Festival.”

 

Ameri paused in her note taking. “Do you trust every single one of them to keep things quiet while we get ready?”

 

“I believe so,” Asmodeus responded, taking a single cookie for himself. “They were able to execute Iruma-sama’s plan to acquire Royal One successfully, and their skills have only improved since the Harvest Festival. I will keep them in line while we make preparations.” Clara pumped a fist in the air to offer her support as well.

 

“We know of a local bakery that Iruma-sama enjoys that we can get the cake from,” Asmodeus added, “and of course, my family has many candles, given our magic.”

 

“And I can make almost anything else we need to decorate!” Clara happily continued. Ameri’s hellphone chirped, and she pulled it to see a message from Opera.

 

Opera: We are making plans for the next day off from school. Do you think you can gather the students together in time?

 

“We’ll need to work quickly to get everything prepared, it looks like we’ll have 4 days to get it together.” She finished her tea before standing. “I’ll coordinate with Sullivan-sama’s house, and trust the two of you to handle your classmates. Give me your contact info so we can keep everything organized.”

 

The two rose as well, grins on their faces. Phones were quickly passed between the three before they parted ways, ready to make the best ritual for Iruma.

 

—————————————————————————————————————

 

Group Chat: 10+ Members

Asmodeus A: As discussed, this group chat is to plan for Iruma-Sama’a birthday party. DO NOT ADD HIM TO THIS CHAT. I MEAN YOU, CLARA

 

Valac C: I know how to keep a secret, Azz-Azz!

 

Azazel A: Thank you, Asmodeus. How many people are we confirmed with at this point?

 

Goemon G: At this point, the 13 members of our Class, you, Sullivan-sama and Opera-san, I believe. Total 16

 

Shax L changed their name to YoungKing

YoungKingchanged Goemon G to SamuraiSword

 

Asmodeus A: Is this really necessary, Lied?

 

YoungKing: Yes

 

YoungKing changed Asmodeus A to HotAzzFire

 

YoungKing: Are we certain that Azz explained it right? You all remember how he messed up ‘friends’

 

HotAzzFire: Can we pretend to have some dignity in front of the Student Council president? My apologies, President, they are a rowdy bunch.

 

YoungKing changed Azazel A to TheOneandOnlyPresident

 

TheOneAndOnlyPresident: Don’t worry, I knew firsthand from Iruma that your class is... unique. Especially after the year you’ve had.

 

TheOneAndOnlyPresident changed their name to DokiDateAmeri

 

DokiDateAmeri: And Lied, I received this information from a text Iruma has shown me, so I believe that it is credible. Granted, I can’t get him to translate it for me without giving away the surprise, but I think it’s enough for now.

 

SamuraiSword: I do not believe I understand that reference, President. But thanks for the confirmation. Azz can get a little too excited sometimes. 

 

DokiDateAmeri: It’s related to the text I found. I thought it appropriate. And we might as well plan for 20, just to be safe.

 

YoungKing: should we try to invite Bachiko? she helped him train for the Harvest Festival after all. and Robin-sensei would probably also want to come.

 

HotAzzFire: And Balam-sensei seems to also be invested in Iruma’s progress from midterms, we should probably include him as well.

 

Andro J: whoa, we’re inviting teachers now too? in that case, you can’t forget Fluffy-Sensei.

 

Andro J changed their name to SmoothJazz

 

DokiDateAmeri: If you have the means to invite Master Barbartos, go ahead. I should be able to invite the teachers tomorrow. In the meantime, we need to focus on preparing for the party. Asmodeus, you mentioned a bakery that Iruma enjoys?

 

Valac C changed their name to Irumachi’s#1Friend

 

Irumachi’s#1Friend: Operachi got us food from them before! It’s super good! It’s on Magical Street, right Azz-Azz?

 

HotAzzFire changed Irumachi’s#1Friend to GremlinLeader

 

HotAzzFire: Yes, Opera-San should be able to give us the contact info.

 

Opera: We have already ordered the cake, but assistance with pick up will be greatly appreciated. Leave it to us to arrange the food.

[Order confirmation page attached]

 

HotAzzFire: Thank you, Opera-San. Is Sullivan-sama able to assist us with the venue?

 

Sullivan: =^D 

 

Sullivan: You’re all free to use my manor, since this is for my adorable grandson. <3

 

Sullivan: Though, it might be difficult to prepare without him noticing =^O

 

Sullivan: He’s getting better at paying attention to his surroundings :^)

 

YoungKing: oh devil he’s doing it for every message

 

Sullivan: And of course I’ll pay for the food. Iruma does have a healthy appetite, and you all are growing children (✿◠‿◠)

 

DokiDateAmeri: Thank you, Sullivan-sama. Would you be able to possibly take Iruma out for a few hours, and bring him back once we are ready?

 

Sullivan: A chance to spend some time alone with my grandson, and then getting to see his happy face when we come back? I think I can handle that ; ^ )

 

SmoothJazz: Chair Demon, don’t take this the wrong way, but would you mind if we taught you some better emojis?

 

Sullivan: I would be delighted to learn! 

 

YoungKing: kerori or nee-san, who wants it?

 

YoungKing changed CrocellK to IceDreamer

YoungKing changed IxE to Nee-San<3

 

Nee-San<3: I’ll take it from here, boys

 

AllocerS: What else do we need to prepare? I’m intrigued.

 

SmoothJazz changed AllocerS to GrandDukeofProverbs

 

DokiDateAmeri: The most important components are the cake, and candles to represent his achievements this last year. Iruma should be able to finish the rite once we give him the means. Decorations to match the theme are also appropriate, but can be tailored to match Iruma

 

DokiDateAmeri: Since Sullivan will supply the cake, and Asmodeus has the candles handled, I believe the rest of us students should be able to cover the decorations. Agreed?

 

IceDreamer: I should be able to make some ice decorations as well. 

 

GremlinLeader: and I can make streamers and garlands no problem, Lady Red-head!

 

CaimK changed their name to GentlemanK

 

GentlemanK: I will do all I can to assist such lovely ladies!

 

AgaresP: I can build something if someone else figures out what we need

 

SamuraiSword changed AgaresP to Agaresting

 

DokiDateAmeri: That might be just what we need to get the candles in place. I’ll work on a design once we have a confirmed size of the cake.

 

Agaresting: just make sure there’s open ground for me so I don’t have to go through the floor. saves time and effort

 

Opera: The ballroom connects to the garden, which should give you plenty of space to work with

 

SabnockS changed their name to FutureDemonKing

 

FutureDemonKing: The short deadline is preventing me from finding the most perfect present for my rival, but I will achieve the best I can on such short notice.

 

Sullivan: My apologies. I’m still learning how to be a grandfather, it seems ToT

 

DokiDateAmeri: If anyone doesn’t know what to get, please come to either 

Asmodeus, Valac, Sullivan-sama, or myself for good suggestions. That should be all for now, thank you.

___________________________________________________________________

 

It was the day of the party, and Jazz, Sabnock, Garp, and Allocer were possibly facing the most difficult part of the preparations. The short deadline was nothing compared to the confection before them.

 

“Uh, are you sure this is the right order?” Jazz asked the baker, a mild sweat breaking on his forehead.

 

“The confirmation slip you presented is for this cake, young sir,” he said. “Per Sullivan-sama’s orders, it is the largest cake we can produce on site. The doorframe doesn’t allow for anything taller.”

 

“Right, I can see that…” The cake was over 3 meters tall, tapering up to a ring of three cupcakes nestled together, with a base as wide as a set of double doors. It was decorated in blue icing that seemed to match Iruma’s eyes, with fondant flowers and feathers scattered across its surface. Tiny gold rank badges were also spread around, shining points of brilliance against the deep blue. A large cover powered by a magical stasis spell protected the cake from the air, which would hopefully make the thing easier to transport to Sullivan’s manor. “Okay, good thing we have Sabro here. You’ll be our muscles, right big guy?”

 

“Bwahaha, this cake is truly fit for my rival!” Came his bellowed response. “And it is a fitting test for myself as well!”

 

“You may use our cart to get it out of the door. But beyond that will be up to you, young sirs,” the baker offered with a bow before returning to the front of the bakery to attend to other customers.

 

“They who have prepared well has already won half the battle,” Allocer said, and cast ‘Fractal’ on the massive cake. “That should make it easier for Sabnock to carry it, but balance will be another issue.”

 

“I should be able to use my Rescue Wind to help keep things stable at the top,” Garp said, with a hand fisted against his chest.

 

“Okay, then I’ll help keep the path clear so we don’t have to worry about getting tripped up. Luckily this part of the street is a dead end, so we won’t need to worry about a bunch of people walking up behind us,” Jazz concluded, opening the doors of the bakery and looking around to make sure there was space for the monstrosity to emerge. He gave a nod, and the group pushed the cake out of the store with little difficulty, the door frame only allowing the cake out with barely a finger’s width of space.

 

Finally free of the door, Sabnock crotched forward so his body was almost parallel with the ground, and the cake nudged gently onto his waiting back by Garp and Allocer. Once it was settled across his broad shoulders, Sabnock stood, hunched under the cake with his large hands barely holding the bottom.

 

“You got it?” Jazz asked with concern. A lot of the bottom wasn’t being directly supported by anything. They would have to hope that Sabnock’s strength would hold out. 

 

Sabnock gave a brief grunt before answering with a brief, “Yeah, I got it.” 

 

The moment that Jazz looked around to make sure their path would be clear, he saw Iruma and Sullivan turning the corner and starting to walk down the street, because of course they would. Headed straight at the group and their gigantic cake in eye-catching blue standing front and center before the bakery. The sweat that had dotted his forehead inside doubled, and a rivulet crept closer to his eye.

 

“Grandpa, isn’t this where that good bakery was? Do you think we can pick up a 

snack?” Drifted down the street, and the sweat felt like ice against Jazz’s skin.

 

“Man, why didn’t we bring Soi on this mission?” Jazz complained, his hand fruitlessly rising to the anti-detection glasses in his jacket pocket. But even if they put on the glasses, they had nothing to hide the monstrosity of sugar, which would surely again Iruma’s focus, given how much food he could eat. 

 

Sabnock spotted Iruma, and his mouth opened, apparently to call out a greeting. Garp and Allocer forced their hands over his mouth, both hissing at him while trying not to disturb the cake. 

 

“This is supposed to be a stealth mission, remember?”

 

“Be not thy tongue thy own shame’s orator!”

 

Jazz took a breath as he looked over the street, scanning for any possible distraction. Being a pick-pocket required knowing how to make people look a different direction, a skill that was honed by General Furfur. Allocer joined in, apparently thinking the same and working his impressive knowledge to regain control of the situation.

 

Think Jazz urged himself. Forget about everyone else, the main goal is to get Iruma to look away from here. What can we do, what do we have available right now? No use wishing Soi was here now. It’s a dead end street, so we need to distract Iruma enough to let us slip by...

 

Jazz and Allocer both locked eyes on a banner that was strung across the street, waving in the gentle breeze. They locked eyes and nodded, silently agreeing on their plan of action. Allocer whispered to Garp, whose face furrowed, but he pulled the katana handle at his hip and slashed at the air as Allocer stepped forward. In an instant, the banner was cut from one of its moorings, the far end flowing down towards the group.

 

Allocer called out, “Iruma, is that you? What a fortuitous meeting!” As the banner passed in front of the misshapen mass of cake and Sabnock, Jass swiftly pulled and the entire pile slipped into the shadow created by the fluttering sign, as close to the building opposite the bakery as they could with the cake. 

 

“Allocer-san! Good day! What brings you out here?” Iruma answered, his smile wide and welcoming. Lord Sullivan’s face was calm, but his eyes quickly found the cake team, and his eyebrows drew close. Jazz gave a small wave and pointed at Allocer, mouthing ‘Help him distract Iruma.’ The Lord smiled as he purposely relaxed his face. The banner had completed its fall, so Jazz looked around for the next possible step.

 

“I wanted to do some shopping to get ready for next semester,” Allocer stated, his training under General Furfur helping to keep his emotions off his face. “Fortune favors the prepared. What brings you out today, Iruma?”

 

“Oh, Grandpa said he wanted to spend some time together. I was so busy the last few months preparing for the Festivals that we haven’t been able to spend a lot of time together, you know?” Iruma explained with a heartfelt grin. 

 

“He’s right!” Lord Sullivan declared before scooping Iruma into his arms and spinning in place. Jazz seized the distraction and guided Sabnock further up the street, nudging people aside as gently and quickly as he could. “My grandson has done so well this year, hasn’t he? Why, he only missed one chance to increase his rank!”

 

“Grandpa…” Iruma whined, trying to escape the arms encircling him. “I’m getting dizzy…” Sullivan finally stopped his spins, conveniently with Iruma facing the direction opposite the group, and the group sprinted forward with as much haste as they could. “Grandpa!” Iruma complained again, and the boy was set down with great care.

 

Allocer laughed as Iruma brushed down his clothes as he stepped around his grandfather to face the lion-headed student. “That’s right, the only time you didn’t rank up was during midterms, when I did! And I got to skip Bet.”

 

Iruma looked down, and Garp took the opportunity to cut down another banner as Jazz led the cake around the corner and off the dead end street. “Studying has never been my strongest skill,” he muttered, and Jazz shoved Sabnock behind a display of hats and scarves just as Iruma’s head came up. “But now that I have an idea of how to study, I’m sure I’ll do better next semester.”

 

“Sure,” Allocer agreed. “And now we can have more study sessions in Royal One. I’m sure the others will partake as well.” His eyes flicked up and caught Jazz’s for a brief moment. Jazz nodded, and pushed Sabnock around the next corner, eager to make sure the cake was out of sight. “Well, I don’t want to intrude on your time. I’ll see you soon, okay Iruma?”

 

“Sure!” Came his quick agreement. “It was nice to see you, Allocer-San! Until next time!”

 

When in doubt, divide and conquer is a great tactic. Jazz couldn’t help but grin. And the chaos he could hear behind them as shoppers were mired by falling signs and vendors complained about shoddy anchoring helped to muddle their trail. Allocer snaked his way through the crowd and gave Jazz an ‘all clear’ sign that had been developed under General Furfur’s heavy gaze. Compared to that hellish training, this had been a breeze!

 

____________________________________________________________________

 

Iruma could only sigh as Opera took his coat at the door. He had a great time with Grandpa at the Magical Shopping district, as he usually did, and it had been a nice surprise to run into Allocer. Too bad Opera hadn’t been able to join them, but it was still a good trip.

 

“Iruma-kun!” Grandpa sang as he took the human in his arms again. “Since the weather was so nice, why don’t we have dinner in the ballroom and look at the garden while we eat? It’s too nice a day to waste it in the dining room!”

 

“Eh?” Iruma could only blink and relax into the arms holding him. “I don’t mind, but won’t that give Opera-san more work?”

 

Opera gave a nod, although their face remained its usual cool mask. “Not a problem, Iruma-sama. I thought Sullivan-sama would request it, so I’ve already made preparations. Shall we go and start with the appetizers?”

 

“Sure!” Iruma answered, and Sullivan held his hand gently as they walked down the halls. The demon’s hand was warm, and Iruma couldn’t help but smile. 

 

I don’t remember my parents ever treating me like this, so warm and open. This has been the best time of my life so far, even with the dangers.

 

They finally reached the closed doors to the ballroom. Iruma frowned, as usually unoccupied rooms were left open. He felt a tingle go down his spine as Opera knocked on the doors before throwing them open.

 

“SURPRISE!” Came a cacophony of voices and a volley of confetti, and Iruma felt himself leaning back at the volume, but his body didn’t tense to evade anything, so apparently he wasn’t in danger. He blinked and took in the scene before him.

 

All the members of the Misfit class stood before him with wide grins on their faces, as well as Ameri. Behind them were Robin-sensei and Balam-sensei, with Master Bachiko perched on the taller’s shoulder with a smirk. Behind all of them was a massive towering blue cake, with a wooden ramp encasing it in a spiral. Candles were stuck in the cake following the ramp, ending with a single candle perched amidst the highest tier. Ice carved into stars and flowers were pinned in the corners of the room, with colored streamers connecting them.

 

“What the…” He began with a quiet voice, trying to figure out what was going on.

 

“Iruma-sama!” Azz called out as he stepped forward, Clara on his heels, and Ameri a step behind. “Why didn’t you inform us of your birthdate? We had to rush, but hopefully this will be acceptable.”

 

“My birthday?” Iruma echoed, his brow furrowing. He thought of the date, and gasped. “I forgot about my birthday!” He exclaimed, his hand flying to his mouth, and he looked at his friends and soulmates with confusion and surprise. “How did you find out?”

 

Opera stepped up from where they had been standing behind Iruma. “You told Balam, and it was part of your student paperwork, so Azazel-san noticed as well. As soon as we realized, we began to plan. I think given the short notice, we did quite well.”

 

Iruma could only nod in vague agreement as he looked around the room again, before smiling at Ameri and his soulmates and his friends and his family. Everyone was here. “Thank you all. This is amazing!”

 

Azz beamed with pride, and Clara jumped forward to hug Iruma tightly. She tugged him forward, giggling out “Irumachi, look at the cake! Isn’t it the biggest you ever saw?”

 

Iruma nodded again, noticing the feathers that matched his bow and the small rank badges that decorated the cake, showing aleph, bet, gimel, daleth, and he`. He then noticed the logo that was on the cake’s lowest tier. “Isn’t that from the bakery on Magical Street? We were just there!”

 

“Yeah, and you almost walked right into us!” Jazz declared, stepping up to drape an arm over Iruma’s shoulder. “It was only thanks to Allocer and the Chair Demon that we managed to get out of there without you noticing.”

 

“You were there when we were?” Iruma repeated with surprise, looking at the cake again. “How? That thing is huge!”

 

“It was a difficult task, but a rewarding one!” Sabnock announced with a booming laugh. “Truly a test of our skills!”

 

“We truly worked hard for this victory,” Garp said, approaching Iruma as well. “But so have you, Iruma. Let’s celebrate it, Iruma!”

 

“After all,” Elizabetta said with a grin. “You’re the reason we got so far this year.”

 

“But don’t go thinking you’re hot stuff!” Bachiko snapped from her place on Balam, ruffling his hair as she shook a fist at Iruma. “You still got a long way to go!” She stopped flailing and relaxed on her perch. “But, I guess I can let you off the hook today.”

 

Iruma could only stare as he looked around the room again, accepting the smiles and grins from his friends and family. He could feel tears of happiness trying to leak out, so he closed his eyes and smiled back.

 

“Now, Iruma,” Ameri said with her Student Council President voice, “I believe you’re supposed to blow out the candles, right? Better hurry up before we get impatient.” She offered him a wink, and gently nudged him to the base of the ramp. Iruma took a big breath, and then started up the ramp, approaching the candles on the lowest tier.

 

I don’t think a human has ever had to run while blowing out their candles, but somehow this doesn’t seem like an issue, given that it’s the Netherworld, but…

 

...I think that this just makes it the perfect place for me