Zero no Tsukaima:Volume11 Chapter4
|This text is a machine translation (MTL).
Be warned that the degree of translation error may be higher than usual.
This page was created before the updated (July 19, 2015) MTL guidelines and has not been reviewed.
Chapter Four: The Vallière Family
“Now then, did you just say ‘Void?’”
That night... the queen, enclosed in the living room of the La Vallière house, confessed a secret.
Duke of La Vallière was sitting wordlessly in front of the fireplace, watching the flame burn. Next to the father, the two elder sisters were listening carefully with a serious looks on their faces.
Karin Desiree was there too, she had changed her mantle back to her usual duchess dress. The sharp eyes of that fearsome knight of Heavy Wind also disappeared somewhere. An indescribably quick change.
Louise and Saito’s friends – Guiche, Kirche and others, due to Henrietta’s request, were taking a rest in the room nearby.
Saito and Louise themselves were sitting together on the sofa, nervously fiddling their fingers. Because Saito was severely injured by Karin’s wind magic, parts of his body were covered in bandages. Even Henrietta’s water spells could not cure him completely.
Henrietta, who sat in the top seat, gave a strong nod.
“That’s right. Louise’s awoken element... is the legendary element of ‘Void.’”
Duke of La Vallière fiddled with his mustache for a while, then stood up slowly and approached his daughter.
Then he gently patted Louise's head.
“Your fairy tale-esque story is hard to believe. The Void element disappeared from history long time ago. And only religious theology still asserted that ‘it existed...’”
Karin’s sharp eyes shone as she made a small cough.
“I believe it.”
“My spell was canceled by Louise’s spell today... It started to shine even though I could not see any explosion. Was that the ‘Void,’ Louise?”
“It is so, Mother.”
Duke of La Vallière fell silent. Eléonore fell down on the floor.
“Void... You – void? It’s impossible to believe...”
Cattleya stood up and began to look after her elder sister.
Henrietta continued talking.
“I myself could not believe it as well. However, it is true. ‘Void’ returned and it’s not just Louise who controls it.”
The family members felt silent again.
It felt like silence lasted for an eternity.
Finally, Duke of La Vallière broke the silence.
“I would like to hear the intentions of Her Majesty’s visit.”
Taking a deep breath, as if finally setting her mind on something, Henrietta looked straight at Duke of La Vallière.
“Please entrust Louise to me.”
“She is my daughter. Her body and mind are dedicated to you, Your Majesty.”
“There’s no need for such formality.”
Henrietta motioned to Agnes.
Then Agnes nodded and opened the big leather bag at her side and took a black mantle out. Duke of La Vallière’s eyes widened when he saw the crest shaped Lily on the purple lining.
“This is Royal family crest... young Marinanne used to wear this mantle!”
“Louise, you were already given the punishment for illegally crossing the national borders.”
“Yes. Wearing this, you’ll become my sister. In other words – you will be the second successor to the throne.”
“G-G-G-Gracious. Or should I say too gracious...”
“You, your power is too great. This is a huge responsibility for one’s shoulders, and the obligation to help the country this way will be remembered twice as much.”
Henrietta watched Louise with stern eyes. On wobbly legs, like a frog bitten by snake, Louise received it.
Duke of La Vallière’s mouth opened wide to this unexpected Louise’s promotion.
“Your Majesty, I wish to express my gratitude for such warm reception of my daughter. No, even the biggest gratitude, cannot compare to such warm reception. However, there is something I’d like to ask Your Majesty.”
“What is it?”
“Does Your Majesty know what to do with this legendary power that my daughter has? Indeed, ‘Void’ is a legend. It was even able to cancel Karin's magic, so that power is considerably strong. Did you use it in a battle during the recent war campaign?”
“This... I will reflect it deeply.”
“My daughter is neither a cannon ball nor a flaming arrow. If some bad things are done to my daughter, Your Majesty...”
“Then, alas, I will throw away the history of serving the Royal family for years, and cross wands with you.”
It was not the duke but the father sympathizing with his daughter. Seeing that, Saito’s chest began to throb.
Hearing the duke’s words as such, Agnes tried to pull out her sword. Henrietta stopped her.
“Then, I myself, have a question for the duke. For you as an old-time noble and the protector of this country’s pride and dignity.”
“Why does war happen? We who are wise, who reign over other lord’s creations, who are more outstanding than mythical beasts and demi-humans - for what do the same family members fight against each other?”
“On countless occasions wars have occurred. With our own eyes we see people important to us become injured or die. I too, caused a war blinded by revenge. The result – not only those important to my people, but many other people died... parents, children, brothers and friends were lost. I myself am carrying the guilt that can never be taken off my shoulders.”
“...you are not responsible for that war, Your Majesty.”
“No, under my name, everyone fought, got injured, died. If I myself don’t shoulder it, who will?”
Henrietta deeply lowered her head.
“I want to use Louise's power... for something right. But how can I, when I can’t even understand my current self yet? However, I do not intend to use it to fight. Please believe that, Duke.”
“I fear, Your Majesty, that even if there is no intention to use it to fight, sooner or later a time will come when it will be necessary to use it anyway. No, such strong power attracts people.”
“It is as the duke says. Now, other countries are active behind the scenes too. People who want to get such great power and extend their wicked claws towards us also exist. I'm doing this to protect Louise from the people who want to place her in their paws and control her.”
“It’s exactly why I feel uneasy. There are enemies who want a strong power. What if it is only Your Majesty’s words? Now you say you are determined, but who can guarantee it won’t change sometime? Is there something with which Your Majesty's determination can be proven?”
Henrietta lowered her eyes, feeling conflicted, and after contemplating that there was no other way, she said resignedly,
“There is none. I will be honest, even I do not fully believe in myself. Therefore, there is no way to prove it.”
After that, Henrietta smiled. It was not a careworn, but a sincere smile that touched every person who saw it.
“Therefore I... would not want a friend nearside whom I cannot completely trust. I want a true friend who could point out my mistakes. A friend who, when seeing me straying from the path of virtue, would not hesitate to turn her wand against me...”
The old duke watched Henrietta. For a while, after looking deep into her eyes, he returned the glance back to Louise.
“Didn’t you tell your father before, that ‘the awoken element is fire?’ Was that a lie?”
Louise nodded in shame.
“It was something like that, father.”
“It is alright Louise. But it should be the first and the last time you tell your father lies.”
Then, the duke turned back to Henrietta,
“I am an old aristocrat. An old-fashioned elderly person. Things were simple, to a degree, when I was young. Loyal with honor and pride, defending only that, and there was no worry to be scorned by anyone. However... the times are different now. Since the power of the legend revived - old justice, old sense of values... they all might lose their meaning.”
The duke looked at Henrietta, like at his daughter.
“Your Majesty said before, that you ‘cannot believe in yourself.’ Such a doubting mind... is the best guide to enter the brighter future.”
Louise ran up and clung to her father.
“You are growing Louise. My Louise. This father thought you would stay the same forever. However, you already started your own life.”
The father gently patted his daughter's head.
“Just father’s garrulity. Devotion is to point out mistakes. And… courage is to admit them. True courage. Louise, do not forget. My little Louise.”
“Whenever you are in trouble, always return here. Because here is your home.”
The duke kissed Louise’s forehead and quietly pushed her away. Then he deeply bowed to Henrietta.
“Take care of this inexperienced daughter of mine. I pray for the Founder’s divine protection for the road you walk.”
For a while silence followed the words... then Duchess Karin clapped hands.
“The long story seems to have ended. Even if it’s late, let’s prepare for dinner. Though it's a poor way to entertain Your Majesty, who came all the way here, please attend. Louise, call your friends and come; Cattleya, Eléonore, please continue your favors as host.”
Like a gracious soldier from the past, Karin briskly left the room.
Following her, the two elder sisters left. Then Louise went to call Guiche and others...
When Saito also tried to go, he was stopped by Henrietta.
Though Henrietta’s face clouded for a moment, she still was able to force a smile.
Saito’s cheeks dyed red and he looked down.
“No… there is no reason to. I did a selfish thing to begin with.”
“Courageous gentlemen are like wild falcons and stallions. They say ‘I am going,’ and they go without turning back.”
Henrietta received a mantle from Agnes and handed it to Saito. The Chevalier's crest was sewn up on it – it was a knight‘s mantle.
“Take it back. What the queen gave once - cannot be returned.”
“This is not the chain that binds you. These are the wings for a falcon. It won’t hurt you to wear it.”
Henrietta said. Saito nodded and received the mantle.
Henrietta watched with tenderly smiling eyes as Saito put the mantle on.
The look in her eyes surprised Saito for a moment.
The fever in her eyes that she used to show for Saito recently, was now gone.
Instead, it was a pair of lonely... very lonely but determined eyes, that understood their resolution.
Henrietta drew her mouth to Saito's ear and silently whispered.
“Calm down. It’s not the face you should show to the queen.”
Abruptly, Henrietta extended her left hand. He wouldn’t make the same mistake this time. Saito, feeling slightly nervous, gently took the offered hand and pulled it to his lips.
Then Henrietta gave a happy smile and left the room.
Like a shadow, Agnes followed her.
The meaning behind Henrietta’s words left hanging. However he could not understand it well somehow. No, it was not love. Something different.
As I thought, it was just her momentarily loneliness. That’s why she depended on me this much. That’s ok. But those words just now, what meaning did they carry?
Though she was little lonely, Henrietta was still prideful.
When Saito tried to leave as well, he was called to stop by Duke of La Vallière who stayed last.
Saito trembled. A cold shiver went down his spine. Somehow he had a bad feeling about this.
In his mind he revived the recent event in the courtyard.
The Duke saw him pushing Louise down in the boat, and ordered to behead him. Maybe he, as Louise’s papa, a person with high position, didn’t remember a commoner's face?
However, circumstances are circumstances. Somehow he could guess that he made an indelible impression back then. Maybe at least, Louise’s mama, Karin was not there long enough to remember?
“Incidentally, I have not heard your name.”
“S-Saito. I am Saito Chevalier de Hiraga.”
Saito added the title to his name. Maybe he would not be treated with suspicion this way.
“It’s our first meeting.”
After Duke of La Vallière's words, Saito could only feel a great relief inside.
I'm so glad. I won‘t be necessarily killed. F-Founder Brimir-sama, thank you... Saito dedicated his deepest gratitude to the founder in whom he did not believe.
“Yes. It’s our first meeting after you became Chevalier.”
In a single moment, Saito was thrown from heaven down to the depths of hell. Duke of La Vallière, placed a hand on Saito's shoulder.
“Calm down. I cannot order the beheading of a knight of Her Majesty's Imperial Guards.”
“T-Thank you very much!”
“However, how about a little practice before the dinner?”
The duke grasped Saito's shoulder with a strength that a man of his age could not posses.
“So that your body remembers whose daughter you are trying to wolf away.”
Duke dragged Saito away.
Happy chatter about the day's events filled the dining room that evening. Reunion was accomplished when Agnes brought Colbert. As a bonus, Henrietta did not say no, and listened to the beaming face Guiche – everyone was amusing themselves in this fuss.
However... the dinner fest ended, and even when bed-time came too, Saito did not appear.
“Do any of you know if something happened to Saito-kun?”
Colbert asked, but all members in the room shook their heads.
“I wonder where he went...” Kirche said.
While everyone inside was concerned, asking where he was, Saito was lying half-dead in the corridor.
Saito sighed, lying prostrated in the hall. He was first beaten up by Louise’s mama during the day, and during the night time he was trashed by Duke of La Vallière – so now his body was screaming.
Though Louise mama's magic was fearsome, Duke of La Vallière was truly terrifying.
The eyes full of anger even now were making Saito tremble from head to toes.
It was as if he was seeing his daughter get pushed down by Saito, and aggressively attacked Saito. Saito could not move at all and could only bear the full brunt of the attacks single-sidedly. However, instead of saying that it was a beating, it was more appropriate to describe it as shooting. Of course, Saito was the target.
Then again, what kind of parent and child were they?
He staggered trying to stand up but fell down.
“Right now, everyone must be happily enjoying the meal...”
Saito leaned against the wall. Outside the window, he could see the pair of moons.
However... no matter how stern they looked, both Louise’s parents loved her.
Even Louise's mother did not want Louise to be hurt badly, and because of that she inflicted a cruel punishment, as if asking Henrietta - "Please forgive her."
Even Louise’s father was ready to throw away his duke title to protect Louise.
“I, of course, do not have anyone to protect me like this.”
Saito complained, looking at his wounds.
Saito recalled his parents, whom he had not seen for more than a year now.
When was it, the last time when he was also protected like this. He remembered it to be when he was still in primary school. He had been assigned a path to follow to go to his school, and it was a must to follow it, so it was forbidden to use another road to return home. But one day, Saito walked along another path. That was only because Saito couldn't find the eraser he had been using all along at the bookstore he frequented. Saito's classmate found out, and told the teacher.
The teacher was extremely angry towards Saito.
But Saito's parents told him, "That's ridiculous, you're not in the wrong."
His mother, who would only say "Study well". His father, a reticent salaryman. They were an ordinary family like everywhere else.
Before noticing, Saito was shedding tears again.
Strange – he thought rubbing his eyes.
Until now, I never cried thinking about parents...
Is it because seeing Louise’s parents’ communication reminded him of the past? However, I can’t show such crying face to Louise and others.
All alone in a dark corridor, Saito sat, hugging his knees.
“What are you doing?”
A clear, soft voice, made Saito jump up.
In her room, Louise was brushing her hair.
Before she entered the Academy of Magic, this was the room where she spent the most time and grew up. It was a large ten square room. A big bed with canopy was standing a little away from the window.
Moreover, it had a mountain of stuffed animals packed inside. A large number of picture books and a gorgeous sculpture of a vaulting horse. She said she wanted it and bought it herself some time ago...
While living in this room, she had been dying to get out of this residence as soon as possible. A severe education from her mother, who seemed to only think of how to marry her out; a father, always associating with the neighborhood, and the only thing he seemed to be interested in was hunting.
Those two people once said she could not learn magic. A girl who cannot do magic cannot marry off properly, they said strictly - thus, every day felt like a prison.
However, her parents and this residence were not a prison, they were the castle that protected her. Though love was not visible on the outside, deep inside she was defended and treasured.
She looked at her bed.
“...has it gotten smaller?”
No, it is not so. During childhood, that bed felt very big, but now it looks small, because I grew up.
Does that furniture look a little bit nostalgic because I grew up too?
No, Louise shook her head, I haven’t grown up at all.
While combing her hair with the brush... Louise was losing herself in deep thought.
Everyone... is worried about me. Mother and father, Henrietta...
And yet I am constantly only doing selfish things.
Louise let out a cute sigh, looking doubtfully into the mirror.
“Hey Louise. Louise the Zero. You being a ‘legend’ cannot be the truth.”
That’s what I was told.
Louise placed her cheek against the dressing table and closed her eyes.
“What... am I going to do in the future...?”
She remembered the words that she said to Henrietta before she left to Gallia.
To persist in the “reason” I believe... I am losing, but my spirit as a noble is somewhere here.
Louise was worried.
She did not care to pass the reason she believed. It was all fine. But, what if, as a result, many people were to suffer because of it? And that number would not be small. Because my “Void” power is too strong. The justice that I carry out may cause a lot of injuries to many people. Such a thing is possible.
If I were a simple user of one of the four elements, I would not need to worry this much...
“Really, what should I do...?”
Louise felt troubled.
Then Saito’s face popped into her mind. Just when I'm worried this much, where has that fool gone to? Is he still asleep? After all, he did not come to sit at his dinner seat. When she asked her father, who was late as well, he said that he went to sleep because he was tired and did not say anything else.
Since their trip to Gallia, they were always accompanied by others and barely had the time to be just the two of them alone. That’s why they could not talk about a lot of things the way they used to. However, as the situations continued to change bewilderingly, they always found themselves denied of such time alone.
“If you love me, why do you leave me alone?”
But, in this residence, finding the room may be difficult, I guess. Is Saito still searching for the room I am in?
“...really, that idiot is indeed capable of pulling stunts like that.”
Then, someone knocked against the door.
In an instant, the heart in her chest started to beat fast when she thought about Saito.
“It’s me, Louise.”
Henrietta's voice. Panicking, Louise ran up and opened the door. There stood Henrietta, who had changed to plain clothes, and smiled.
Louise made a profound reverence.
“Is something wrong, Louise?”
“No… sorry for the big trouble we caused...”
Fuuh - Henrietta sighed.
“It’s alright Louise. Alright. Though we had a conflict, everyone is safe. Therefore, it is alright. You just followed your reason. And I followed mine.”
Henrietta smiled. Without thinking, Louise hugged Henrietta.
It was impossible to move because he was hurt, and the one who appeared in front of Saito, who was crouching in the hall, was...
It was Cattleya, with Louise-like blond-pink hair. The second from the three La Vallière daughters was a beautiful woman with a slight sex appeal. She didn’t have Louise’s sharp look, and Saito was attracted to both her looks and the atmosphere surrounding her, so when she appeared out of the blue, he was left breathless.
“Ara, ara. So, so.”
With a surprised expression on her face, Cattleya squatted down in front of Saito.
“Those are nasty injuries... Are you alright?”
Saying so, Cattleya started checking Saito’s injuries.
“Is your head bleeding?”
She asked looking closely at his head. Then Saito’s eyes landed on Cattleya’s... body part, which, compared to her younger sister Louise, was developed the most... in other words - her breasts. Because of that heavenly presence, wrapped only in a light pink blouse, Saito almost died.
Saito tried to stand up in panic. However, sharp pain hit him at once.
“Don’t overdo it.”
Cattleya took out her wand and began to utter an incantation.
“Come water spirits...”
The healing spell slowly cured the injuries received from Duke of La Vallière.
“T-Thank you very much!”
Flustered, Saito bowed to Cattleya. But when he stood up and tried to leave, she grabbed his arm.
“Don’t. A healing spell cannot cure you completely. You need to be treated properly.”
Cattleya gave a wonderful smile. The smile was indescribably filled with affection. Saito felt like his spirit was already healed just by seeing it.
He was very nervous when Cattleya pulled him towards her room. Saito was surprised when he was guided inside.
A flying squirrel flew right at him, aiming for his face, making Saito cry out.
When shouting he managed to shake it off, he leaned against something big.
It was a small bear.
He cursed trying to escape, but stumbled on something large. It was a giant turtle. Animals came near one after another, drawing closer to Saito.
“Hey, hey. He is injured, so no games.”
After Cattleya’s words, the animals, which crowded around Saito, parted slowly.
It was as if the room was a little zoo. Saito recalled that time in the carriage too. Cattleya definitely loved animals.
When he voiced out his impression, Cattleya laughed joyfully.
“Were you surprised?”
Cattleya started searching through the drawers, and after some rustling, pulled out some bandages and medicine from inside and began to cure Saito's injuries. Cattleya said from the bottom of her heart.
“My mother and then my father were your opponents. That’s why your body... I am really sorry. They are not bad people. They are just sometimes stubborn...”
“They are Louise’s parents. So I don’t mind.”
When hearing him saying so, Cattleya laughed. And fell into a violent coughing fit.
“A-Are you alright?”
“I am. It’s just that I haven’t used magic for a long time, so my body is not accustomed.”
Seeing Saito’s surprised face, Cattleya shook her head.
“Ah, sorry, sorry. Never mind that. It’s nothing really.”
“Yep. I don’t usually use magic.”
Somehow, her words were filled with kindness. Without thinking, Saito started to open up.
“Nee, nee, can you tell me stories?”
Though she was older, Cattleya seemed to talk like an innocent girl. Without hesitation, she openly gazed at Saito’s face.
“Since you left, various serious things must have happened. It must have been very dangerous in Albion. I was very worried, about you and Louise.”
So Saito told Cattleya about events that followed after they came to this residence to get the permission to participate in the war. The war. How he went missing. When she heard about him charging against 70,000 soldiers, Cattleya’s eyes grew wide.
“So...you faced grave danger instead of Louise.”
“It isn’t that! I just took her place, because someone had to...”
“You are great. You did such a great feat without swaggering at all.”
Being praised by Cattleya this much, Saito felt extremely awkward.
“No that, this, that...”
“Really amazing. Louise must be happy. You are a real knight.”
Cattleya praised Saito without any ulterior motive. Being praised like this by an older woman... somehow reminded Saito of his mother.
Of course, Cattleya and his mother did not look even the slightest bit similar. But... this honest compliment was no different from his mother’s. He was not praised all that much. But he carried those praises in his memory forever.
Accidentally getting a good mark on a test...
Helping to clean the dishes...
And all those other times when his mother complimented him a lot...
Anxiously, Cattleya looked into Saito’s face. Unbeknownst to himself, Saito started to cry.
“S-Sorry! It’s nothing!”
“Though it is nothing, you are still crying. What’s the matter? Go ahead and talk to me.”
“No, really... really it’s nothing.”
No way could he say that he was moved to tears because he remembered his mother. She would think he is a wimp.
“Sorry. I just recalled something.”
Cattleya made a sorrowful face and gently hugged Saito’s head. Her faint perfume scent mixed with gentle kindness, made Saito close his eyes.
Being held close against Cattleya’s warm chest, settled his mind down. At the same time, he felt something very nostalgic.
“...why, why did I recall it now? Since I came over here, I did not remember that often. So weird.”
Hearing his absent-minded voice, Cattleya gently asked.
Cattleya did not ask anything else. She just made a slightly lonely face and coughed out “Sorry.”
Though Saito did not understand the reason why Cattleya apologized... he did not think of it any further. He just kept his eyes closed, hugged against Cattleya’s rich chest... as if cradled by a deep sea... his heart calmed.
The conversation Henrietta and Louise shared was similar to old times.
Just like during childhood the two giggled and spoke of various things.
“With the coming of summer, I often spent my time in here.”
Eyes reminiscing of the old days, Henrietta said.
“That’s so, isn’t it.”
Louise suddenly felt the need to consult with Henrietta.
“Princess, there is one thing I would like to consult you about.”
“What is it?”
Louise asked Henrietta what was worrying her.
“If I followed my heart forward, and there was a possibility of hurting someone else if I did so, what should I do?”
Henrietta quietly listened to what Louise was saying. Her expression slightly turned solemn. She nodded towards Louise.
“I'm the queen, aren't I?”
“It is as you speak.”
“Well, even though it was not my decision, but now I'm wearing the crown. I may be young, but I've learnt some politics. However, there are still some things that I do not understand. Why does this world, never stop having wars?”
“But one can decrease the loss a little. You know what I am saying? I can’t endure seeing my important people getting hurt. It is not just me. Everyone feels the same. Therefore, I try to decrease the missions where people would lose important people or get wounded because of me. This is my job as a queen. Fights and war will never disappear, but they should be reduced.”
Louise slightly nodded.
“I want to help princess with that.”
“Thank you, after all, you are my best friend. You and Saito-dono, please continue to help me further.”
Hearing that, Louise became slightly tensed. How did Henrietta feel about Saito? Whether Henrietta noticed Louise’s insecurities or not, she smiled.
“Do not worry about him. I am sorry Louise, for what I did. I was lonely and needed a person to depend on, and I made this grave disservice.”
“He is your knight; not mine. But at least for a little while I wanted to be like ‘Louise...’ Though it all ended in a big pain and now I feel uneasy thinking about it.
Even Louise's ears crimsoned. Henrietta gave a mischievous smile.
“Nee, Louise. Some time ago, we made a promise here... That whenever we will find a person we love, we would tell each other about it. Yet, I still haven’t heard your report.”
“...t-that's...because there is no person I l-love.”
Biting her lips, utterly embarrassed, Louise said.
“Liar. You are really bad at telling lies.”
“N-Not lies at all.”
Louise slipped under the sheets and covered herself with the futon. Henrietta jumped on her and started to tickle.
“Hey Louise! Speak out! Who do you love?”
“No... princess! I love no one in particular... hiyan!”
Tickling continued and Louise soon was tired out.
“If you are playing dumb about it, lets ask Cattleya-dono.”
“Yep. That’s right. In the past, from the window of this room, didn’t we use to sneak into Cattleya-dono's room?”
Henrietta’s face became one of a little girl’s, reliving old times again.
“Indeed that’s how it was. Because of princess' magic...”
“Yes. Back at that time I used to use the ‘Fly’ spell.”
Henrietta took Louise's hand with a cheerful expression.
“Well then, let’s go.”
“When having love troubles, it is the best to ask a senior!”
Henrietta pulled Louise's hand, going to the window. A mild night spring wind danced outside.
Henrietta, set up the wand, clasped Louise's hand and stepped out to the gentle night sky.
Saito was resting his cheek against Cattleya's lap.
“Previously... When Cattleya-san praised my courage... To tell the truth I do not know if it is mine or not.”
“What do you mean?”
“Look, am I not Louise’s familiar? When I hear her utter a spell, I feel a boost in my courage in my mind. Derf... ah, that’s the name of my sword, once said ‘Listening to the master’s spell will give you courage, like a child hearing mother’s call reacts.’ In other words, my courage is...”
“So when you become a familiar, you gain that courage?”
“Yes. That’s why when I say to Louise ‘My courage,’ deep down, I am not very confident at all. That’s why deep in my heart I always doubt if it's me, or if it's the ‘Familiar’ who thinks like that.”
Cattleya patted Saito's head. It had a strangely smoothing effect on him, and the things that he kept hidden in the depths of his mind flowed easily out of his mouth.
“...such a mystery. Amazing.”
“Like this, I recall mother. Though Cattleya-san doesn't look like her at all. However, it is warm somehow...”
“It’s really mysterious. After coming to this world, I did not usually remember those things all that often.”
“To this world?”
Saito was startled by Cattleya’s question. He did not intend to say that he was not a human from this world. But... since it was Cattleya he could as well say that.
“I am not person from this world.”
“You are not surprised?”
“Somehow... No, I did not imagine you being from a different world... But I did get a feeling that you did differ from others and that you were not a common plebeian.”
Cattleya’s words reminded Saito of the words said on their previous meeting.
“It feels like you’re a completely different human from your very core. Are you?”
“Therefore, even if I’d want to meet my family, it is impossible to do so. However, I forgot about it for a long time. So why do I remember them now?”
“...maybe those feelings were suppressed.”
“Yes. When something painful happens, human hearts tend to lock the painful events away from the mind. It’s not all that strange.”
“Surely, when you were brought to this world your mind was shocked. That’s why it locked the memories of your hometown so you would not remember them. Yet, there are ways; ways to find keys to unlock the mind...”
That’s right, Saito thought. Communication between Tabitha and her mother. Bonds between Louise and her parents... Maybe, seeing these kinds of things, the suppressed feelings were revived.
Feelings of homesickness. Feelings for his mother.
Saito shut his eyes.
“...and I am like your mother.”
“Ah, Cattleya-san is not my mother, you are different! And yet tears still fall. Tears...”
Trying not to look weak, Saito tried to make a joke, but it became useless, when tears started overflowing. Cattleya tightly embraced Saito.
“Good child. You are a strong child.”
Saito kept on weeping.
He cried like he hadn’t cried in a long time.
He couldn’t tell how long he cried this hard.
He was pressed close to Cattleya's chest while crying... and it mysteriously relieved his mind.
It slowly settled his heart down.
“Sorry... I don’t know what came over me.”
Saito said, while rubbing his nose.
“It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. When you want to cry, you should cry.”
“Haah, what a sore loser you are. You don’t like showing your weakness to others, right?”
“It’s just not something a man should do.”
“So stubborn. But once in a while I think it's also necessary to depend on others too. You can‘t pent it all inside, not relying on anyone.”
Saito sighed. He was surrounded by women who relied on him. Though he was staying strong in the events... the truth was that he wanted to depend on someone too.
“...it might be so.”
“That different world... Is it possible to return there?”
“I don’t know. But, besides me, there was a person who came to this world from there, so... I may be able to return and I may be not able to.”
Cattleya looked straight at Saito.
“You will be able to return. You will be able to return, surely. And you will be able to meet your mother after some time. You will be able to return to your original family. I think so.”
Reassuring, Cattleya said. Saito nodded.
“Thank you very much.”
“Though I can’t console – Hah, I am sorry. If only my body were stronger - I would have helped you to look for the way to return... That’s right! Though it is impossible for me to be your mother, I can still be your elder sister.”
She said out of the blue. Saito was in panic.
“I-I-If I would have such beauty as my elder sister, I would return home early every day.”
“Come on, call me elder sister.”
“T-That... There’s no need for that.”
“There is a need for such thing. Come on, say it.”
When the gentle Cattleya urged him this way... Saito responded instinctively,
“There you go, it wasn’t so hard.”
Cattleya happily patted Saito's head.
Something warm filled his mind. There is a chance that I will never meet my family. However... there are a lot of people who are nice to me like this.
Saito rubbed his eyelids.
“There’s no time for crying. There is a fellow who is aiming for... Louise’s ‘Void’ power. That person did cruel things to Tabitha and her mother. I will not forgive that guy.” We have not met him yet, but we imagine that it may be Joseph, King of Gallia.
What kind of guy he is?
It doesn’t matter... I won’t let him lay a finger on Louise or Tabitha anyway.
We’ll return home, after this story is finished.
“Just don’t overdo it, alright?”
Cattleya hugged Saito again.
“I don’t want anything else, just you and Louise to be safe.”
That moment, a loud sound of breaking glass echoed.
“Not good, added too much power.”
The ones that fell into the room, were no other than Louise and Henrietta. Then they both stood up while rubbing their hips in the pain, and then both stared with astonishment at Saito.
“W-What are you doing in here?!”
“That’s my line! Why did you both jump in through the window?!”
Without answering Saito’s question, Louise's eyes narrowed.
“Y-You are going after Chii-nee-sama now?! Unbelievableeeee!”
Her face flushed, Louise charged forward.
Louise’s jump-kick cut the three meters distance in no time and hit Saito on the temple. When Saito fell down, Louise straddled his waist and started to strangle him.
“Of all things, Chii-nee-sama! Of all things, Chii-nee-sama! Won’t allow! I won’t allow this!”
Then animals started to react to Louise’s shouts, who was straddling on top of Saito.
Waf, waf. Bow, wow. Meow, meow. Gao, gao. Buh, buh.
It was as if a lot of animals that began to lean on Saito were asking – “Can we play too?”
Saito’s consciousness started to slip away.
Louise looked down at Saito, who fainted, with demonic eyes.
“There’s no time to sleep!”
“Louise, Louise! You should not kick gentlemen like this!”
As might be expected, because Saito was kicked, Henrietta stepped in to end this.
Cattleya started to laugh out loud.
“Stop Louise. I did not try to take away your sweetheart.”
“He’s not my sweetheart! It’s different!”
Crimsoned, Louise waved her hand.
“...That, I only thought about dangers awaiting Chii-nee-sama. That was my only thought.”
“I only cured his injuries. Really.”
“...I did not miss this guy’s look. This fellow has absent-mindedly implanted his face in Chii-nee-sama’s cleavage. F-f-face buried between C-Chii-nee-sama’s breasts! H-how dare he! Chii-nee-sama’s breasts! B-b-b-b-breasts!”
In other words, Louise’s blood rushed to her head. And, because she lifted her leg for another kick, Henrietta had to step in again.
“Excuse me, Louise? Stop!”
“Stop, what for?!”
Henrietta smoothingly looked over the place and voiced her opinion with a forced smile.
“Well... umm, Cattleya-dono is just like Louise. Like her hair color. Therefore, Saito-dono has surely absent-mindedly regarded her a grown-up Louise.”
Henrietta‘s simple words made Louise think.
“It’s hard to believe! That sort of...!”
Though Louise said that, waves of happiness filled her heart.
“Louise is really lucky, to have such great gentleman's feelings dedicated to her.” Cattleya added with a smile as well.
“S-s-s-such a bother.”
Embarrassed, Louise mumbled.
Later that night... laying unconscious, Saito was on the sofa, the three noble girls slept in one bed after a long time. Cattleya in the center, Louise on the left and Henrietta on the right.
“It has been such a long time since all three of us slept like this.”
Henrietta said in a cheerful voice.
“During the summers, Your Majesty used to visit our home a lot.”
“Yes. During those days I was really happy. Because there never was a thing to worry about…”
Looking distant, Henrietta said.
“We used to play a lot.”
“Oh Louise. In any case, we came to Cattleya-dono for some questions.”
The three girls were laughing and chatting happily for a while.
In the course of time, the conversation moved to Louise and Saito's relationship.
“Hey Louise, why are you always so violent towards Saito-dono?”
When asked by Cattleya Louise denied it, blushing hard.
Henrietta noted, making Louise even more perplexed.
“P-princess only witnesses the worst moments!”
Henrietta let out a loud sigh.
“Haah, if you keep doing that, he will hate you for it. However, Saito does look like he's infatuated with you, so there should be no problem with that.”
“As an older sister I do not agree with that. Such usual nastiness may make him run away. For example, remember what happened to elder sister Eléonore?”
In Louise’s mind, the image of her eldest sister, whose engagement was canceled, popped up.
“It is alright to allow gentlemen to act on their own once in a while. If you are angry at him just for speaking with other girls, he will end up disgusted sooner or later. It’s not just me. I do not want to see Louise taking older sister’s place in being disappointed with love.”
“D-don’t question such things! He is madly in love with me!”
Like a child she shouted, but Cattleya only shook her head to that.
“There is no such thing as a person who could not change their mind. Give him breathing space from time to time. If you do so, he will still return to the person he loves the most in the end.”
Louise became silent.
What Chii-nee-sama said was always correct.
Maybe she was indeed not giving him enough space.
Henrietta and Cattleya continued to give Louise advices one after another.
The chatter of three girls continued throughout the night.
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