Unlimited Fafnir:Brynhildr Valkyries Chapter 3

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Chapter 3 - Brynhildr Class[edit]

UnlimitedFafnir Brynhildr Valkyries Chap03 Cover.jpg

Part 1[edit]

Slam—

As though trying to stem the tide of emotions overflowing from my heart, I shut the window.

"...Thanks for the past year."

Taking down the nameplate reading "Mononobe Mitsuki" hanging outside the door, I bid farewell to this room that was filled with memories.

What flashed through my mind was the party we had held to celebrate passing the Dragon Subjugation Squad's admission test. Listening to Haruka-san's story, eating snacks while making a lot of noise, we even ended up scolded by the dorm warden... We really enjoyed ourselves. However, that was more than a year ago.

—The nameplate of my roommate, Shinomiya Miyako, had been taken down half a year earlier.

With my hands occupied with the last of my luggage, I walked along the corridor in the girls dorms.

The girls dorms were silent in the early morning with no one coming in or out. This was precisely why I had chosen such a time, but—

"Mononobe Mitsuki, are you moving to your personal living quarters starting today?"

As though she had been waiting for me, the figure of a female student with a ponytail appeared from around a corner in the corridor.

"Haruka-san..."

I called out the name of the senior student and stopped walking.

"I would like to speak with you."

After saying that, Haruka-san took a heavily laden bag off my hands.

"Let me take your luggage. Walk with me until you reach your dorm."

"N-No way! I cannot have you carry my luggage, Haruka-san—"

I frantically tried to take my luggage back, but she evaded me.

"You don't need to mind. This is probably my last opportunity to help you as your senior."

"Eh...?"

What was going on? I frowned and followed after her.


After leaving the girls dorms, we walked along the coastal road.

The morning air was very refreshing, putting one's mood at ease. The sunlight was already very strong.

Striking the white beach, the sound of breaking waves could be heard regularly.

"—I, too, am about to graduate at last."

Holding my bag, walking in front, Haruka spoke quietly. Although it was a light whisper, which even the rustling of trees could drown out—Having waited the whole time for her to speak, I did not miss her words.

"Graduate...? Could it be that your dark matter is already—"

"Indeed. Although there were warning signs after the Kraken battle, starting last night, I no longer have the ability to generate dark matter at last. My dragon mark has also vanished completely."

Haruka-san confirmed my question without looking back.

This meant that Haruka-san was no longer a D. She was going to graduate from Midgard—this school.

"...I see."

I was supposed to praise her achievements and congratulate her on moving to a new phase of life.

However, what came out of my lips was merely a noncommital remark.

Currently in Midgard, Haruka-san was the only person with whom I could speak my true thoughts. Since she was about to leave, an unbearable feeling of loneliness surged in my heart.

Haruka-san slowed down her pace slightly and placed her hand on my shoulder.

"Due to my graduation, the Dragon Subjugation Squad will be reorganized anew—The student council will also hold a by-election, I suppose. I will recommend you as my successor on both fronts."

"What—"

I could not help but gasp. Haruka-san was saying that she would entrust the positions of student council president and captain of the Dragon Subjugation Squad entirely to me.

"Now that it is confirmed that dragons are seeking 'mates'—You are everyone's hope as the Kraken's slayer. In preparation for the next time a dragon attacks, I hope you will accept these jobs."

"..."

I bit my lip hard and lowered my head.

Memories, confined to that room in the girls dorms, flashed through my mind. They were almost entirely dominated by the smiling face of my best friend, Miyako.

The sin of taking that away by my own hand—was never going to vanish. I must abandon all expectations.

However, I had also made my decision. In order to protect my comrades, I must continue to fight.

There was nothing I could do apart from that.

"—I understand. I will put my life on the line to fulfill my duties."

Haruka-san smiled after I said that.

"Thank you... But there is no need to put your life on the line. There are other things you still need to do."

Haruka-san pointed ahead. Over there, I could see the roof of the personal living quarters I was going to live in from now on.

"As a reward for vanquishing the Kraken, this is the personal living quarters you wished for. That wish probably included considerations for your brother, right?"

"Well..."

I avoided eye contact because she was right. The principal had said she would grant any wish no matter what, so I voiced my wish for a personal dorm.

Although the pain of living in that room with Miyako gone was partially the reason, more importantly, I wanted a place where Nii-san could live after coming to Midgard.

However, this was an act of seeking personal happiness for me. I clearly had lost that kind of right already—

"There is nothing to be ashamed of. I feel relieved that you still haven't abandoned your personal wish. Hence, I hope you will make use of the power you are about to gain to this end."

Captain of the Dragon Subjugation Squad and student council president. My military rank would rise all at once.

In that case, the chances of locating Nii-san might increase a little too.

"But that and my rightful duties..."

"It's not necessarily unrelated. There might be other compatriots, Ds, imprisoned by NIFL, you know? Rescuing him is your responsibility as an upcoming leader of the Ds. Don't worry, I will help you too."

"Eh...? But Haruka-san, you are already—"

Haruka-san smile wryly in response to my confused gaze.

"After graduating, I will continue to stay as Midgard's staff. From now on, I will support you as a teacher of the school rather than as a senior student."

"—Could you tell me this kind of thing earlier!?"

Having mistakenly believed she was surely leaving, I complained loudly.

"Sorry. I wanted to save this good news to tell you at the end."

"Seriously... Haruka-san, you are malicious like this every now and then."

Pouting, I pretended to sulk but I was actually overjoyed inside.

Did my face betray my feelings of joy? Haruka-san smiled and touched my head.

"Really? But I never noticed."

"Please treat your juniors more gently!"

Despite saying that, noone knew better than I that Haruka-san was actually the most gentle person alive.

"Haha—In that case, show me by example. Newcomers will be joining Brynhildr Class immediately. Mononobe Mitsuki, you will guide them as their gentle senior when they arrive."

Newcomers—Surprised by this word, I puffed out my chest vigorously and nodded.

"Understood. Leave it to me."

This was surely the "me" that Haruka-san wanted—

Part 2[edit]

From the transport ship moored at the pier, newly arrived Ds with uneasy expressions descended.

One of them was a lively girl with a ponytail. Another was a petite girl with red hair.

"—Welcome to Midgard. I am Mononobe Mitsuki, student council president and captain of the Dragon Subjugation Squad.

After I greeted them, the red-haired girl hid behind the other girl.

"Ahaha, sorry about that. She's very shy. I'm Ariella Lu. Thank you for coming out to welcome us."

The ponytailed girl—Ariella-san—smiled wryly as she introduced herself.

"...Come on, Ren. Say hi."

At Ariella-san's urging, the red-haired girl timidly poked her head out.

"Mm... I'm, Ren Miyazawa."

She spoke her own name quietly then hid behind Ariella-san's back again.

"Ariella-san and Ren-san. Pleased to make your acquaintance."

"Yes, nice to meet you too."

"Mm."

I bowed my head, then Ariella-san responded cheerfully while Ren-san replied in a very quiet voice.

"—Mitsuki-san."

At that moment, I heard a voice calling me from the ship.

Pulling a large piece of luggate, Mica-san looked downwards at us from the deck.

As the principal's secretary, Mica-san must have gone to accompany them on the trip to Midgard, just like in my case.

"May I trouble you to take them to their dorms first? They have quite a large quantity of luggage, which will require time to move."

"Understood!"

I turned to face the two girls after replying to Mica-san.

"Well, you will be living here from now on, all the way until adulthood... So

"Not really. This is pretty much all of my belongings. All the big ones are Ren's."

Hearing what I said, Ariella gestured to the travel bag in her hand.

"Mm! Mm!"

Then as though reprimanding Ariella-san for saying too much, Ren-san hammered Ariella's back.

"Ehh... So Ren-san, what kinds of things did you bring?"

I asked out of curiosity, but Ren-san shyly avoided my gaze. Seeing Ren-san acting like that, Ariella-san answered on her behalf.

"All kinds of things, like computers she made herself and robotic devices I don't understand. Ren's very smart and she's made many things on her own."

"Is that so...? That is amazing."

Impressed, I murmured, prompting Ren-san to lower her head shyly.

"Mm..."

Seeing her endearing reaction, I could not help but reach out to stroke her head.

"!?"

Ren-san suddenly shuddered and she instantly hid behind Ariella-san again. She was almost like a very wary kitten.

"Sorry, Ren-san, did I scare you?"

"Mm..."

Ren-san emerged from behind Ariella-san to show half her face and nodded.

"Don't feel too concerned. Although she's like this for now, it'll be better in a few days once she gets familiar. When I met Ren for the first time, she was hiding shyly in her room."

Smiling wryly, Ariella-san explained Ren-san's wary behavior.

"...You two knew each other before arriving here?"

"Yeah, we lived together. Although we're not blood-related, we're listed as sisters on the Japanese family registry."

Ariella-san nodded and explained her relationship with Ren-san.

"Mm..."

Ren-san confirmed what Ariella-san said but for some reason, her face was shrouded in gloom.

Noticing that, Ariella-san clapped her hands and changed the subject.

"Well, let's talk about family backgrounds later. The sun is killing me here, so..."

"Oh, sorry. Please follow me, Ariella-san and Ren-san."

I apologized and led the way.

Although they seemed to be hiding something, Ariella-san and Ren-san were definitely good people.

This was my first important task after succeeding Haruka-san.

If I did not work hard to help dispel the unease in their life in Midgard—

Part 3[edit]

Hoo—After taking a deep breath, I knocked on the door lightly.

"...Mitsuki?"

Firill-san's voice came from inside the room.

"It is me—"

My voice was congealed from nervousness.

Ever since moving to my personal living quarters, this was my first time returning to the girls dorms. I had come here to at Firill-san's invitation to hold a welcoming party for Ariella-san and Ren-san.

"Thanks for being patient. Come inside."

"Pardon the intrusion..."

I timidly opened the door and entered the room. Lisa-san was supposed to live here alone but Firill-san had moved in on her own because she had turned her assigned room into book storage.

Having gathered in the room already, Lisa-san, Firill-san, Ariella-san and Ren-san looked at me.

"U-Umm..."

"Mitsuki-san—Stop standing at the doorway. Hurry over and have a seat."

While I was hesitating about what to say, Lisa-san patted an unoccupied cushion and urged me.

"Ah yes."

I frantically nodded and sat down next to Lisa-san.

Ever since the Miyako incident, my relationship with Lisa-san had been stuck in an impasse. This was the reason why I hesitated in entering the room.

However, Ariella-san and Ren-san were present today, so it might be possible for me to speak with Lisa-san more naturally.

"So, what did you bring?"

"Smells good..."

Ariella-san and Ren-san looked at my paper box with eyes of anticipation.

"Yes, I baked some cookies. Though I am unsure whether they are to your tastes..."

I brought the box to the center and opened the lid. A sweet aroma spread in the room.

"Wow, it looks really tasty... Mitsuki, nice job."

Firill-san spoke, looking very touched, and made a thumbs-up sign at me.

"Can we try some?"

"Mm?"

Ariella-san and Ren-san looked at me with eyes of anticipation.

"Please go ahead. Be my guest."

"Here I go."

"Mm."

They picked up differently shaped cookies and brought them to their mouths.

"—Mmm, this is amazing. There's a warm taste."

"Mm... This, I like."

Seeing the two of them eat a second then a third cookie, I felt relieved.

Making snacks was something I started recently.

Wanting to reward the efforts of the members of the student council and Dragon Subjugation Squad with some gifts, I decided to start learning how to make sweets from scratch.

"Indeed, the taste is not bad."

Lisa-san took a bite from a cookie and gave her comment.

"T-Thank you!"

Overjoyed, I could not help but bow my head.

"I am the one being treated—Mitsuki-san, there is no need for you to show gratitude. Thank you, these cookies are very good."

"...Yes."

Honestly rejoicing from Lisa-san's thanks, I pressed my hand firmly against my chest.

"...Eating so many will get fat. How scary. Mitsuki, is this a trap?"

Firill-san ate cookies while glaring at me resentfully.

"Firill-san, could you behave more graciously? This is Ariella-san and Ren-san's welcoming party."

Before I could speak, Lisa-san already chastised Firill-san.

Listening to their exchange, Ariella-san laughed happily.

"Ahaha—I'm so glad I was assigned to Brynhildr Class. If it's like this all the time, the days here will definitely be very fun."

"Mm."

Ren-san also agreed while eating cookies.

"Yes... Certainly, it will be a pleasure."

Keeping my overflowing emotions in my heart, I nodded.

The happy days they spoke of were something that Brynhildr Class had lost for quite a long time now.

But starting tomorrow—no, starting today—perhaps they would be back again.

Although things definitely could not return to the way they were... Although things had gone past the point of no return no matter what, I was still overjoyed to see that everyone could live happily.

Part 4[edit]

The wind was howling.

The trees outside were swaying violently while raindrops fell diagonally to strike the window.

"A day like this... reminds me of that day."

From the student council office, I watched the storm approaching Midgard from afar and murmured to myself.

Located in a tropical zone, Midgard was frequently attacked by typhoons. The schedules of transport ships would avoid them as much as possible, but weather was impossible to predict precisely.

However, procedures to apply for access through Midgardsormr were extremely strict and complicated. Rescheduling due to weather would require a vast amount of paperwork to obtain authorization again.

The "invisible bridge" of Bifrost, the safe route into Midgard, would change with each application. Hence, losses in time would also be incurred. Consequently, rescheduling was quite rare.

These were details that I learned half a year ago when I became student council president.

"—President Mitsuki! I have assembled the members of the Dragon Subjugation Squad and the student council as instructed!"

Entering the student council office while panting, a girl reported to me.

"Noted. In that case, the Dragon Subjugation Squad will be in charge of aiding the transport ship to reach port. Student council members will assist Midgard's staff to treat those who feel unwell. I will take command at the pier."

After issuing orders to her, I placed a communicator on my ear.

Let me make some sweets for everyone after the job is done.

Thinking that to myself, I left the office.


After passing through a wind barrier constructed by twenty people...

The transport ship arrived safely at port inside the storm.

I issued orders to others while boarding the ship in search of our new comrades who had arrived at Midgard today.

—She was supposed to be my age.

Recalling the photo and personal details from the profile I had read, I looked for her on the deck.

Next, she walked out from the cabin while supported by Mica-san.

"Mica-san!"

I called to the principal's secretary and ran over.

"—Ah, Mitsuki-san. May I trouble you to look after her? She is suffering severely from seasickness..."

"Urgh... I really wanna puke..."

Supported by Mica-san, the silver-haired girl was groaning with a pallid countenance.

"Are you alright? I shall call a stretch straight away to take you to the infirmary."

"...T-Thank you..."

She thanked me. This was the first time for her to look in my direction. Set in an exquisite face, her large and beautiful eyes looked like gemstones. Even from my perspective as a member of the same gender, I found her to be an extremely adorable girl.

"Who are you...?"

Her bloodless lips quivered to ask me.

After calling for a stretcher, I introduced myself to her.

"My name is Mononobe Mitsuki. I am the student council president and captain of the Dragon Subjugation Squad."

"U-Umm, I'm..."

The girl looked like she wanted to introduce herself too but stopped halfway. She was probably feeling unwell.

"No need to force yourself. You are Iris Freyja, aren't you? I already know your name because I have read your profile."

Iris-san nodded. Stumbling, she extended her hand.

"...Pleased to meet you, Mitsuki-chan."

"Yes, a pleasure to meet you too, Iris-san."

I shook hands with her and replied with a smile.

Although the circumstances were the same as Miyako's arrival, the impression she left me was completely different.

Compared to Miyako, who had excess capacity to care for others, Iris-san felt slightly unreliable.

However, I could feel some kind of strong will inside those eyes of hers, staring at me—

Part 5[edit]

The next day, she became the newest member of Brynhildr Class.

From my seat in the last row of desks, the one closest to the corridor side, I looked at the silver-haired girl standing at the lectern.

"I'm Iris Freyja. Nice to meet everyone today!"

Introducing herself very cheerfully, Iris-san bowed her head vigorously.

A heavy thud was heard.

Iris-san had bumped her head heard on the lectern in front of her.

"Oww... That really hurts..."

Holding her forehead, Iris-san knelt down.

"A-Are you okay there, Iris Freyja?"

Standing at the side, Shinomiya-sensei asked. Iris-san stood up unsteadily.

"Yes... Although I'm not okay... I'll bear with it."

"I-Is that so? Then please choose your seat. Feel free to select any empty spot you like."

"...Got it."

Rubbing her forehead, Iris-san nodded. However—

"Kyah!?"

Did she fail to watch her footing? Iris-san lost balance and fell down when she descended from the lectern.

"Hey.. P-Please pull yourself together! Are you alright?"

Sitting closest to the front, Lisa-san stood up and asked the fallen Iris-san.

"Ooh..."

Fallen on the floor, Iris-san groaned.

"A dojikko... I'm meeting a real one for the first time."

Extremely touched, Firill-san looked at Iris-san.

"If you're hurt, do you want me to take you to the infirmary?"

"Mm."

Ren-san expressed agreement with Ariella-san's suggestion.

"Then allow me to accompany her to the infirmary."

This was my duty so I stood up and approached Iris-san.

"—Iris-san, are you able to stand up?"

I stooped down and extended my hand. Unsteadily, she looked up.

"...Thank you, Mitsuki-chan, but I don't need to visit the infirmary."

"There is no need to force yourself, you know?"

Lisa-san reminded Iris-san with a "are you really okay?" kind of expression.

"Yes, I'm really fine. I'm already used to falling over."

Iris-san patted dust off her skirt and stood up.

Indeed, the part she bumped was only slightly reddened. There were not injuries requiring treatment.

"Good to know you are fine... However, I feel that you should take more care not to fall over instead of getting used to it."

Lisa-san sighed and returned to her seat.

"Ahaha... I'll take care from now on."

Iris-san scratched her head in embarrassment then looked around the classroom.

"Then—I'll sit there."

Iris-san pointed at the seat in the last row, closest to the window side.

It was the seat behind Ariella-san's, originally belonging to Shinomiya-sensei—Haruka-san.

Currently, we were occupying the two columns excluding the middle, so I suppose that was the obvious choice.

"Mitsuki-chan, can't I sit there?"

Noticing that I kept staring at her, Iris-san asked uneasily.

"Oh—Not at all, please go ahead."

I frantically nodded and returned to my seat.

Was it because Haruka-san's seat had been filled? The classroom felt subtly refreshing somehow.

Perhaps starting today, Brynhildr Class was going to entire a new era completely.

This crossed my mind as I glanced sideways at Ariella-san who was greeting Iris-san.

Part 6[edit]

This report arrived suddenly.

"Mononobe Mitsuki—Your brother is finally located."

While working in the student council office, I was summoned to the principal's office. Principal Charlotte suddenly informed me of the matter.

"Eh... Now, how...?"

Did I mishear? I asked the fairy-like girl.

This was the one thing that had eluded me in the two and a half years after I had arrived in Midgard—even when I made use of my authority as the student council president and captain of the Dragon Subjugation Squad.

News of Nii-san, whom NIFL was keeping confined.

Although I was absolutely not giving up, I had already prepared myself to accept that this would take a very long time.

However, if what the principal just said was true—

"Let me say this again. I have located the whereabouts of your brother—Mononobe Yuu."

With a toss of her long blonde hair, the principal spoke leisurely.

"...Where, Nii-san, where is he right now!?"

My mind instantly blanked out. By the time I realized, I was already yelling my question.

"He is in the dark side of NIFL, apparently assigned to a unit whose existence itself is top secret."

After saying that, the principal sighed heavily.

"I never expected... that this matter would involve his son. No wonder things were so tricky."

She sounded like she was monologuing to herself, but in my curiosity, I asked:

"Principal... You know about the person who kept Nii-san hidden?"

"Yes—He has a slight connection to me. A very difficult opponent. Even from this point onwards, taking back your brother will be no easy task, you know?"

The principal gazed at me with a serious expression.

This was the first mentioning of this matter. Having uncovered Nii-san's location, we had finally reached the starting line.

NIFL had covered up the fact that Nii-san was a male D. Even if we were to make a direct request for a transfer, they would probably feign ignorance.

Unless I secured evidence, prepared for negotiations and seized the right opportunity, there was no way for me to take back Nii-san.

"Yes, I understand."

Steeling my resolve to take Nii-san back, I nodded.

"—Such beautiful eyes. Just as I expected, you've grown up to become quite a beauty."

The principal murmured softly, apparently reminiscing about our first encounter. Then she inhaled forcefully.

"Great! For the sake of a noble and beautiful girl, I will fight with all my power!!"

Slam. She brought both palms on her desk and declared.

"...Thank you very much!"

Encouraged by her reassuring declaration, I bowed my head deeply and expressed my gratitude.

Part 7[edit]

"Hah—Hah—Hah—"

I breathed regularly while striking the ground with my feet rhythmically.

We were having PE class in an underground sports field today. The temperature and humidity outdoors were too high, unsuitable for athletic activity.

The class involved endurance running. Running laps around the edge of the training site, after a while, I encountered Iris-san, who had fallen behind by one lap.

"Do your best, Iris-san."

I greeted her while overtaking her.

"Ehhh! I got lapped!? Mitsuki-chan, you're so fast..."

Panting irregularly, with sweat dripping off her forehead, Iris-san exclaimed a bit pitifully.

"Please try to pay attention to maintaining your posture even if you are tired. Otherwise, you will add unnecessary strain to your legs."

"O-Okay..."

Unsteadily, Iris-san frantically righted her posture.

"This is my last lap but you still have two, Iris-san. Hang in there."

"I still have two!?"

Leaving the wailing Iris-san behind, I advanced on my own. Next, Firill-san came into view.

"Oh... Mitsuki."

Firill-san noticed and looked at me when I ran alongside her. Despite her slow pace, her face showed a sense of composure unlike Iris-san.

"You are taking it slow today as usual."

"Because... it's tiring after trying too hard."

Firill-san shrugged with an expression of tedium. An indoor person to the very core, Firill had always been like this. During PE classes, she always did the bare minimum.

"Mitsuki—You've been all fired up lately."

"Really?"

I tilted my head slightly because I had not noticed.

"Yes... Did something happy happen?"

Firill-san nodded lightly and gazed at me.

Unsettled with surprise because I had been seen through, I nodded honestly.

"Yes—I have finally discovered the location of what I had been searching for."

"I see... That's wonderful news, Mitsuki."

"—Thank you."

I bowed my head deeply again then quickened my pace.

That was because I was about to smile from happiness due to what she said. Was I allowed to smile? I was not too sure about that.

Ren-san and Ariella-san suddenly came into view ahead.

"Ariella-san, are you feeling unwell today?"

Running alongside them, I asked.

Ariella-san's athletic ability and stamina were far beyond average. Normally, she ran even faster than I.

"Oh no, that's not the case. Ren looked like she's having a tough time, so I'm chatting with her on the side to take her mind off things."

Ariella-san was apparently accommodating Ren-san's pace.

"Mm..."

Ren was breathing hard. It did look like she was having a tough time.

"Ren-san, please do not overexert yourself."

"—Mm."

Seeing her nod, I sped up again.

After overtaking them, all I needed to do was race towards the finish line.

But at this moment, I heard footsteps behind me.

"Mitsuki-san, I shan't lose!"

Running alongside me, Lisa-san declared defiantly.

"—I have no intention of losing either."

Seeing Shinomiya-sensei at the finish line, I entered the last spurt.

Indeed, I must win regardless of my opponent. I must become that strong.

For the sake of reaching Nii-san with these hands of mine.

More than anyone, I must become strong.

Putting in every last ounce of strength, I raced forward.

Lisa-san vanished from my view. Her presence felt more and more distant.

"—!"

I held my breath and dashed across the finish line at full speed then collapsed on the ground.

"Huff... Huff... Huff..."

I stared at the ceiling and panted heavily. Next, Lisa-san appeared before my eyes.

"I lost this time."

"No matter how many times... I will never lose."

Hearing my forceful answer, Lisa-san showed slight look of surprise.

"—You have changed."

"Huh?"

What was going on? I looked at Lisa-san in doubt.

However, Lisa-san did not explain in detail. With what appeared to be quite a happy expression, she said:

"I prefer the way you are now."

I was unsure what she meant—Nevertheless, I seemed to have won some kind of approval from Lisa-san.

Part 8[edit]

—At long last, this day arrived.

Suppressing my feelings of excitement, I hastily rushed towards the pier.

Honestly, it had been too long. By my power alone, I could not do anything.

The principal, Mica-san, as well as Shinomiya-sensei.

The combined efforts of Midgard's top management had finally bore fruit.

That being said—

"I cannot believe that I had to have a meeting on such an important day..."

Panting, I ran quickly.

I had already missed the time for the ship to reach port. Since I had said I would welcome him personally, no one else had gone to pick him up.

Surely, he must be feeling quite troubled, abandoned at the pier all alone. If I did not hurry over...

My heart raced faster and faster.

When the wind blew, I reached out with my hand to check if my hair had been tousled.

Three years had passed since that time. Although my height had hardly increased, my hair had grown long, greatly altering my image.

—Will he be able to recognize me immediately?

Despite the slight unease in my heart, I mustered the courage to strive forward. However...

"Eh...?"

When I finally hastened to the pier, the one I sought was nowhere to be found.

Only autonomous robots, in charge of moving goods, were there, silently unloading containers.

Surely, he had gone away because no one came to receive him.

The only landmark visible from here was the Academy's tall clock tower. If he had gone in that direction, I would have met him along the way.

Then where on earth had Nii-san gone—?

After pondering briefly, I remembered. It was... a very nostalgic memory for me.

Along the commute from my home to school—there was one part that ran along a river.

Rather than walking on the embankment, he preferred to walk along the shore.

Catching fish in the river and making stones skip on the surface were things he enjoyed.

Although Father and Mother had forbidden us to approach the river and the shore was not easy to walk on, I loved his smiling face—He was the one whom I always chased after.

Hence, assuredly, he...

I went back along the way I had arrived, focusing my attention on the beach of white sand in the direction of the breakwater.

Compared to walking on a paved road, it was more likely that he would be drawn to the seaside's beautiful scenery.

After walking briefly, I heard sounds of a dispute.

One side was a familiar voice.

The other was a male voice I had never heard before in Midgard. A voice I did not recognize.

Throb. My heart began to race violently.

This was only natural. After three years of growth, his voice had changed.

"—I'm not doing that!! What's scary is your imagination!"

"Mononobe the molester! Mononobe the pervert! Huh? Speaking of which, her family name is Mononobe too—"

It seemed like they were having some kind of argument.

Oh well, such a development could not be helped when someone encountered him without knowing the true story. The existence of a male D had not been publicized.

However, putting that aside—

...I clearly wanted to be the first person to see him.

I sighed lightly and called out towards the beach.

"Iris-san, could you please not use other people's family name to scream pervert or molester? Even though I know you are clearly not referring to me, it feels very unpleasant."

Next, their surprised gazes turned towards me.

With him—We made eye contact.

Unlike three years prior, his was a mature face.

But there was no mistake.

Even though he had grown taller and his facial outline had changed slightly—He was still my most beloved.

The one I sought was right before my eyes.

This was the moment I had been looking forward to all along.

My heart pounded uncontrollably, releasing a surge of heat in my body.

Although I really wanted to rush over, in front of Iris-san, I had to hold myself back.

I desperately suppressed the tears of emotion that were about to spill from my eyes.

I descended from the breakwater and walked slowly along the white beach.

Nii-san—

Ah... Finally, finally, we meet.

My body was trembling.

My knees lost strength. I was almost about to collapse.

I wanted to throw myself into his embrace, to lean against him totally.

However—I did not want him to see my weak side. I must not show him that.

He was the one person I had decided never to allow him to shoulder anything.

Meeting him again after three years of separation was the "me" that had grown strong.

Rather than an ending, this was a beginning.

I knew how arduous it was to protect what was in one's possession.

Hence, I shall never lose again.

In front of my most beloved, I must become ever stronger. This was the resolve engraved in my heart—


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