This chapter begins with a memory of the time Nao-kun and Shiharu were children. Shiharu was very sick, and when the orphanage caretaker catches Nao-kun peeking into Shiharu’s room, she tells him not to enter because he might get sick too. Nevertheless, as soon as the caretaker leaves, Nao-kun sneaks in and crouches next to Shiharu’s bed. She calls out to her mother in her restless sleep, and Nao-kun holds her hand so she can rest peacefully. The tagline on the chapter intro page says “Silently, secretly… Drowning in [loneliness/hoplessness]…” On the first page of the main chapter, Nao-kun wakes up and realizes that the scene just shown was a dream he was having about what happened long ago, and wonders why he dreamed about that long-past occurrence now. When he goes down to breakfast, Shiharu is toasting bread for everyone’s breakfast. A younger girl (Fuuka-chan) asks to help, and Shiharu lets her carry a piece of toast to the table, but she trips and drops it on the floor. Fuuka-chan is really upset, but Shiharu comforts her and tells her she will eat that piece herself, so don’t worry and just be a bit more careful with the rest of the piece. Nao-kun butts in, telling Shiharu that the person who dropped the bread should eat it themselves and learn from their mistake, and telling Shiharu not to eat things other people have dropped on the floor. Shiharu protests weakly that she willingly offered to eat that piece, and Nao-kun scolds her for that, too, for being too lenient. While he’s busy scolding Shiharu, Nao-kun burns his own piece of bread. He thinks as he eats his burnt toast that Shiharu’s way of thinking is too naïve and she does a lot of dumb stuff because of it, but also thanks to that, he knows that, unlike other people, when she smiles it’s not because she has any ulterior motives, she smiles without any guile at all, and he has come to want to protect that smile. The next day at school, Nao-kun’s friend is whining about wanting a girlfriend and Nao-kun is ignoring him. The friend then says it must be nice for Nao-kun, living with Shiharu. Nao-kun demands to know what could possibly be good about it, and his friend says that living together means… And proceeds to share his silly fantasies of “accidentally” walking in on her changing, her baking him cookies on their days off, and watching scary movies together… And then, when she’s too scared to sleep because of the scary movie, she asks to sleep with him… Nao-kun tells him harshly that it’s not like that at all. His friend is frantic and asks him if he would really refuse to wipe the tears of a terrified girl and Nao-kun replies immediately that he’d refuse. Just then, the friend gets distracted from this ridiculous conversation and notices the math book on Nao-kun’s desk and remembers they have a math test today. Nao-kun is lost in his own thoughts that, come to think of it, he hasn’t seen Shiharu cry since they were kids, never mind get a chance to wipe her tears. He thinks that she’s become the kind of person who never shows her selfishness or weakness to anyone. He gets really annoyed just then and pictures Matsuanga-san and wonders if she’s shown it to him. The friend interrupts Nao-kun’s train of thought just then, begging Nao to loan him his notes from math class so he can study for the test. Nao-kun flips out on him and tells him he’s done nothing but whine and nag all day and it’s his own fault for not preparing his own notes properly. Just then Hanoka shows up and, seeing this scene, tells Nao-kun to scold her too, saying she doesn’t get math at all, either. Nao-kun protests “Aren’t you in the S-class (special class)?! Don’t be unreasonable!!” I had to research this a bit, because at first I thought he was calling her a sadist, but in fact he’s talking about an accelerated learning course for people who are extremely smart and aiming for the highest level universities in the country. This is new information we didn’t know about Hanoka! She’s getting more and more of a 3D character development as the story progresses. Anyways, there’s an insert where she tearfully confesses that the only reason she got into the special class was because she studied until it almost killed her because she was sure Nao-kun would try to get into it, but in the end he didn’t care and just entered the regular high school program. This scene ends as has become normal, with Hanoka clinging to Nao-kun and him yelling at her and trying to escape. The scene changes to the street where Shiharu and the twins are on their way home, presumably from the day care. The twins are jumping in fallen leaves and Shiharu remarks offhand that it’s already December, and tells the twins it’s going to get colder and colder and snow will fall, that New Years will come and they’ll eat mochi, and then warm spring will come. Aoi-kun asks really cutely “Will it come to where I am?” Shiharu answers that it comes to where everyone is, and suddenly remembers that when spring comes, they won’t be together anymore. She quickly changes the subject and says before that, there will be Christmas. The twins make a really amusing mistake pronouncing “Christmas” (“kurisumasu” in Japanese, but the twins say “kusuri masu” which isn’t really a word but “kusuri” means medicine). When Shiharu tries to think of what else happens in December, she remembers that that’s when she has finals. Akane asks “Final exams are coming?” and Aoi repeats “Are they coming to where I am?” and Shiharu explains that final exams start sometime around middle school. She got depressed all of a sudden thinking about how stressful exams are and squatted down in the middle of the sidewalk, but the twins are patting her shoulders comfortingly and Shiharu gets inspired and promises to do her best. The scene changes again to that night, when Shiharu comes to Nao-kun’s room to ask him to explain some math problems to her that she doesn’t get. He agrees and they start studying. Nao-kun recalls what his friend had said earlier about how it must be nice living with Shiharu, and Nao-kun admits there might be some good parts. Finally it seems Shiharu understand the math problems thanks to Nao-kun’s teaching, and she thanks him with a bright smile and praises him for being able to understand this material, while he’s thinking to himself that this wasn’t even a particularly hard problem. Nao-kun thinks that Shiharu showers everyone with her smiles indiscriminately, and he’s perplexed how she still manages to put a distance between herself and everyone else. Shiharu off-handedly remarks that there are one-on-one cram schools she could attend and tutors she could get help from, but she wonders how everyone can manage being alone together without getting nervous. Nao-kun asks her why, and she tells him that she once got help studying from Matsunaga-san, but she was so flustered and her heart was beating so fast that although he was doing his best to explain it to her, what he was saying just wouldn’t sink in. As she says this, Shiharu blushes passionately, and Nao-kun gets angry and asks her if she isn’t at least a little nervous studying alone together with him. For just a second, she remembers what he said when they were children about “There’s a way for us to become a real family” but then she answers with a big smile “Nope.” She tells him they’ve always been together and she’s gotten comfortable around him, and she wonders if this is what it’s like to have real siblings. Nao-kun gets even more angry and yells that even if they’ve always been together, they’re not related by blood, and Shiharu gets a bit dejected and admits quietly that it’s so. Nao-kun has had enough, and while thinking something like “There’s got to be a limit to how thick headed a person can be” he grabs Shiharu and throws her on the ground and climbs on top of her! He tells her that he has not even once thought of her as a sibling, because he has always, always been in love with her. It seems as if he’s about to kiss her when he gets a good look at her face, and she’s gone completely pale, which makes him hesitate. On the last page Shiharu tells him “Nao-kun… You’re scaring me…” and the chapter ends.