He's twelve. Rin, Makoto and Nagisa are jumping in excitement, adrenaline pumped in their blood; they all have a wide grin plastered on their faces. Except for Haru, he's just standing there as they all hug him, laughing. They've won their first swimming competition, and Rin is holding the trophy with pride waving it around for everyone to see. The boys all take turns to hold the trophy, Haru holds it; but it doesn't give him the same feeling as water, he sighs. He wants to jump back into the water and be one with his element; he doesn't understand why his friends are so happy. Haru just wants to swim free.
They're now all dressed and ready to go home. Everyone still exhilarated from the race - other than Haru of course - they hear a singsong voice. Four heads turn to the source.
"Onii-chan!" she waves with one hand, as her short legs run in their direction, with a tin in her other hand.
Haru observes the girl as she approaches them with a wide smile. He watches her crimson hair bounce with every stride she takes, the way it naturally flows from her head; how it shines under the synthetic lights of the building. It's in a ponytail, not too long, but not too short. He finds himself immersed - until Makoto taps him on the shoulder and Haru abruptly turns his head away, his vision no longer on her.
"I got the tin!" she passes it to Rin, who in return thanks her and ruffles the top of her head. From the corner of his eye, Haru takes notice that her fringe is slightly out of place. She puffs her cheeks and fixes it with her chubby fingers. Their eyes meet, there's a tiny blush on the tip of her nose and she sets her gaze towards the floor and he looks away, again. But he's not sure why.
Her name is Gou and she's eleven, according to Rin but she's adamant it's Kou. Inwardly, Haru repeats both versions of her name, either way both names suit her. Makoto and Nagisa acquaint themselves with the younger Matsuoka. Gou looks at him with a shy smile and he doesn't know what to say. Makoto reading his mind, does the introducing for him. He's good at that stuff, Haru not so much.
She whispers his name with a sweet tone, "Haruka" her voice hardly reaches his ear; but for once in his life his name doesn't sound too bad.
Matsuoka-san suggests they take a picture with Gou and they happily agree. Gou pounces her brother, she locks her arm with his and they giggle as Rin blushes telling her to get off. She doesn't, instead she tightens her grip. Forgetting the camera is right in front of him, Haru shifts his head by a fraction, and subconsciously his aqua eyes slides to the girl. Her eyes are squeezed shut, her head against Rin's arm, her nose crinkled. Her hair, its darker than Rin's but it reminds him of swimming during Autumn, crimson leaves twirling in the air as he floats.
The camera clicks, the flash brings him back to reality. Oh God, there's photographic evidence of him staring at her. The rational twelve year old that Haru is, realises there's no point in panicking. Idly, he reminds himself to obtain a copy of the photo.
The four of them situate the medley trophy in the tin which Gou brought; burying the metal in the ground. Raising his head, Haru watches the cherry blossom petals dancing above in perfect synchronisation; effortlessly surrounding him. He picks one up, the rim of the petal is a dusky red; like her hair, like the blush on her nose. Aimlessly, he caresses the petal with his thumb and gently places it in his pocket.
He hears Makoto chuckling, green orbs staring at the boy in amusement. Haru narrows his eyes at him, but his friend isn't fazed.
"What is it?" Rin asks with a hand shovel in his grip.
"Nothing" Makoto lightly shakes his head, grinning.
Makoto's attention back on the two boys, breathing in, Haru fills his lungs with the fresh summer air, the gentle breeze tickling his face; feeling light and airy. And he's not sure if it's from swimming.