It was initially predicted that this winter would be rather mild, but at the end of January, a cold front came rolling in from the mainland and temperatures dropped to record lows. It had snowed so much the previous night that the town was covered in a thick blanket of it. I had no idea where Mamoru could have run off to, but packed my skiis into my canoe just in case.
I arrived at Sage Academy just before class started and managed to slide into my seat without the Sun Prince noticing. He also didn’t seem to suspect anything when Maria said that Mamoru was home sick with the cold.
The topic of class for first period was “Society and Logic.” It was mind-numbingly boring. We tried our best to hide our impatience and prayed for time to pass quickly. The instant the chime sounded to end the class, Maria and I cornered Satoru and told him everything.
Second period was math, which always gave me a headache. Now there were at least three more irritated students in the class.
And finally it was the long-awaited independent observation period where we were allowed to go off campus if necessary. As the three of us hurried out of the classroom, we ran into our first obstacle.
“Hey, where are you all going?” Ryou said to Satoru, avoiding my eyes.
“Isn’t it free observation time right now?” Satoru shrugged.
“That’s why I’m asking where you’re going. We’re in the same team, you know.”
“Don’t you usually hang out with team two?” Maria said impatiently.
“But I’m still in team one. And anyway, I used to hang out with you guys a long time ago. I don’t know why we don’t anymore…” Ryou seemed a little confused by the inconsistency in his thoughts.
“Alright, alright. Sorry, we haven’t explained it to you yet,” Satoru clapped him on the back in a friendly way.
There was no intimacy in that gesture, and it was hard to believe they had ever been lovers.
“We already decided on our observation topic earlier, but you weren’t around to hear it. We’re going to be observing the pattern of ice crystals in snowflakes.”
“Snowflakes? Why? That’s kid stuff. I did it one winter break when I was in Friendship School.”
Although Ryou had been friends with us since we were little, he didn’t go to Harmony School with Satoru and me. Instead, he was with Mamoru at Friendship School.
“We’re observing the changes they undergo when we use cantus on them. We’ve already divided up the work. Could you go look behind the school?”
“What exactly are we observing?”
“First, look at the snowflakes through a magnifying glass and sketch their pattern. You need at least a hundred to start. Then divide them into broad categories by shape. Lastly, choose a few patterns and try to copy them onto another patch of snow.”
“But can snowflakes change their shape once they’ve already formed?” Ryou asked doubtfully.