Zero no Tsukaima:Volume18 Chapter9
Chapter 9: Chance Meeting
It had been three days since Saito and the others had returned to Des Ornieres. Until then, no important news had been sent from the Royal Palace so Saito and the others just spent their days peacefully. In fact, it was so peaceful that they received a letter from Tiffania (who was spending her days with the children from the orphanage in Tristain) asking, "How is everything?". A relaxing time in sharp contrast from the days before.
Since the first night of the day they returned home, Saito's room had become a battlefield at bedtime. Until now, he had become used to sleeping where he was always sandwiched between Louise and Siesta and because of this, you could perceive to some extent the delicate balance that existed between the three. But now there was Tabitha to account for.
Whenever night fell Sylphid would always push Tabitha, who would also bring her pillow, to Saito's room. If there were two persons, one could be accommodated on each side of Saito, but as it had increased to three persons, one must be left out of the bed.
Louise claimed the right side for herself as if it was the most natural thing, claiming that, for Saito, she was considered his number one for eternity and nothing would change that. Since the third daughter of a duke had declared that, there was nothing more to discuss about it.
Siesta also naturally claimed the left side, since she was the one attending to Saito all along. She even said, with a serious expression, "If I were to sleep in another room there would be monsters".
After that, Sylphid, representing Tabitha, raised an objection and said, "This girl has always grown up in a very sad and lonely environment, you know, so you two should show some consideration for her, you know. And unlike the both of you, who would flaunt your pheromones whenever Saito is around, she would be content to be able to just stay by his side, you know. That's the kind of good girl who is nearly extinct nowadays for you, you know! Even among Rhyme Dragons she would be extremely popular, you know!"
While this went on Saito could only sit outside the mosquito tent quietly, hugging his knees as he attentively watched the chaos of four girls arguing.
"Are you in bliss?" If Saito was asked this, he could only answer, "I think so." It was such a tense and delicate situation. The situation that required him to choose a girl from them, made him really feel as if his charm had suddenly soared. By the way, in the past, I could not even handle any girl in front of me. During that time, I had been so desperate for chocolates from girls, even the cloddish ones... Reminiscing about that faraway life of his made him suddenly understand that life is really full of surprises.
Finally, Sylphid who had offered to be the peacemaker made her conclusion.
"I know! Then, onee-sama should be on the top!"
"Yes. As you are on both sides, there is no other place but the top."
"This doesn't seem really good, does it?"
Saito said, and Tabitha who had been remaining silent up till now, said with an expressionless face,
Cold sweat began to run down Saito's back. If he just answered honestly "It doesn't.", then he would hurt her feelings, but if he said "it's okay, I guess.", then Louise...
He had no choice. Saito could only nod.
"Okay, top is okay then..."
"Hey, what's 'okay' supposed to mean. But thank you very much anyway. For a simpleton like you to have the honor of sharing the bed with onee-sama, you should be glad, you know."
Sylphid said that while grumbling at Saito like an old maid.
So, after that was settled it was finally time for bed.
Suddenly they heard someone bang at the door impatiently.
"...Who could it be at this hour of the night?"
"Is it someone from the neighborhood?"
Siesta's face became worried the moment Saito said that.
"Could it be... would it be someone after Saito's life..."
Saito's eyes met with Louise's.
The killers known as the "Elemental Siblings"... not only had they destroyed Derflinger in Des Ornieres, those mysterious brothers had also attempted to assassinate Saito in Gallia.
One of them, Jack, who had been captured in Gallia, remained stubbornly silent. Even under the threat of torture his mouth was sealed.
Saito's eyes grew fierce as he quickly grabbed the katana on the right side of his bed. The rune on his left hand began to shine immediately.
"I shall take my revenge for what they did to Derf!"
Louise's expression also turned serious as she prepared her wand.
"Just watch me finish them off quickly."
Tabitha, without a word gripped her staff tightly in her hands.
"However, aren't they just underestimating us a little... now Kirche and Colbert-sensei are also present in this house too. They won't defeat us that easily."
Upon leaving the room they found Kirche and Colbert, who had also prepared their wands, standing there.
Saito and the others descended downstairs carefully, standing guard on the left and right side of the door.
Knock! Knock! Knock!
The door was knocked again.
Saito stretched out his hand and unlocked the bolt.
Having said that the door was opened wide and someone rushed through the opening.
Magic flew from both sides of the door. "Air Net" and "Icicle Arrows"... Kirche, in turn, called forth a huge fireball that emerged from the tip of her wand. Louise, preparing the second wave of attacks, chanted the "Explosion" spell.
Saito quickly leaped forward to pin the enemy down, his katana placed on the enemy's throat.
"Admit your defeat!"
"...The lot of you, what are you trying to do to me?"
A shrill voice rang out, obviously upset. Under the light emitted from Kirche's fireball, everyone could finally see the face of the mysterious character lying on the floor.
Louise cried out, her face pale.
"Sorry, I'm so sorry!"
Saito and Louise stood in front of Eleonore, bowing their heads dejectedly. Eleonore sat cross-legged in front of them. She really had the aura of a queen when she was angry.
After learning that the intruder was Eleonore, Kirche and Colbert returned to their room saying that it was none of their business anymore.
"Seriously! Mistaking me for a killer! Ridiculous!"
Facing Eleonore's fury, Louise and Saito just kept bowing.
"Sorry, sorry, sorry."
Confronting Louise and Saito who had been apologizing profusely, Eleonore watched the two of them for a while before suddenly saying, "I'm hungry".
Siesta immediately ran to the kitchen to prepare a meal frantically.
Watching Eleonore stuff herself with the food hungrily, Louise asked, timidly.
"So, onee-sama, are you here for something important?"
Eleonore's face turned slightly red.
"Well, it's not really a big deal. Just wanted to bother you a bit."
Louise's eyes grew wide in surprise."Um? Why? Onee-sama?"
"As I've said before, I have no reason to be called an 'Onee-sama' by you."
After Eleonore shot Saito a fierce glare,
"Meh, however, I do think that living in the suburbs once in a while is not a bad idea."
"What about work in the Institute?"
"I will go to work from here."
"Eh? How are you going to do that?"
"I will have you know that I brought my own dragon cage. So for the time being, I will be in your care."
Sensing something between the lines from her attitude, Saito asked tentatively,
"Is, is it that...Onee, I mean, Miss Eleonore was scared that..."
Once Saito asked like that, Eleonore shivered and her shoulders began shaking.
Louise also nodded.
"Ah. That's right. The only people who knew about it, was us..."
As the wind stones in Halkegenia began to go ballistic, half of the land may become unlivable and this piece of knowledge was indeed frightening. After all, the ground beneath their feet now may just rise to the heavens the very next day.
Saito remembered when he used to watch a show called 'A Big Earthquake Is About To Hit Tokyo!' on television. Watching such a show does make some people imagine things. Nevertheless, this is not a show on television but something that would really happen.
"There's, there's nothing to be worried about."
Eleonore said, shaking her head. However, her face had turned pale. Her acting suspiciously dismissive and all seemed to have stirred up Saito's masochistic heart.
"You're lying. You're very afraid, aren't you."
"I've already told you, I'm not afraid."
"Miss Eleonore is also pretty cute, isn't she?"
After Saito said this brightly, Eleonore lifted her brow.
"Hey you, do you take me for a fool?"
"I've always felt that onee-sama is actually a timid person."
"Enough is enough! Go to bed now! Children should have gone to bed by now! Also, I have something to say to you two tomorrow!"
Eleonore's yelling made Louise and Saito escape to the second floor in a panic.
So they got into bed and made themselves comfortable, Louise lying on Saito's right side, Siesta on the left and then Tabitha was put on Saito's body by Sylphid.
After that, Slyphid huddled beside the bed and began snoring, "goo~goo~". Is this really okay, thought Tabitha as she gazed at Saito's face.
"Hmm? What's up?"
"This isn't good, is it?"
Apparently Tabitha still minded the current arrangement. Saito looked at his right, and noticed Louise shooting fierce glares at his direction. And during this tense atmosphere, Eleonore entered Saito's room.
"Louise. Where is my room... This! This is! You guys! This is!!"
Eleonore screamed upon seeing the four of them sleeping on the same bed.
"You, you guys!...Actually!!...Men and women before marriage...actually!!...And!!..."
Eleonore collapsed to the ground, frothing at her mouth.
Louise and Saito were once again brought to the living room on the first floor. This was, of course, in order for them to receive a lecture from Eleonore.
"Surprise, surprise, you are all actually sleeping together."
Eleonore was now engulfed in her boundless rage.
"There will be no room for negotiation. The schedule has changed. Louise, come back with me to De Valliere tomorrow."
Louise's face went pale.
"What are you eh-ing for? Did you really think that the Founder Brimir would forgive the act of man and women sleeping together before marriage? It seems that you really need mother and father to teach you everything again from scratch."
But Louise suppressed her fears desperately, and said,
"I, I refuse."
"What did you say?"
"After all, I also have unfinished business here."
"That's true... After all, you are taking on the role of 'the pillar of the country'."
Eleonore then sighed deeply.
"And that's why I have to remind you that the two of you are only acquainted because of the 'legendary force'. You've not understood this particular situation and so that's how this misunderstanding came to be. From now on you have to rely on this man to complete your task. However, you still have to consider your familiar and life partner as two different things."
Eleonore said this with a grim expression.
Since things had come to this point, if he did not say anything now he would not be a man. Saito set his foot down and spoke.
"Didn't I say that I didn't want to be called 'onee-sama' by you, right..."
"No. Please be sure to let me call you that, onee-sama. Indeed, from onee-sama's point of view I may be someone with an unknown background. However, this feeling I have, my desire to protect Louise, will never lose to anyone."
"Just now, weren't you sleeping with multiple women?"
"Guh", Saito had nothing to say for this. There was a reason for it. However, although there was a reason, he couldn't say it. And even if he told her that nothing happened even though they were sleeping together, he didn't think he would get any trust from her. No, well actually something did happen. However, it was all a misunderstanding and it couldn't be prevented... While Saito was silently thinking about all this,
"Isn't your erratic behavior the reason why Louise ran away from home?" (Translator note: here she was referring to Saito changing his mind on girls)
Saito hung his head dismally. She hit the mark, so Saito could not say anything else.
"Hey, Louise. Now do you understand? This guy is completely hopeless. You must have been manipulated by some force for you to actually think that this guy is a good man."
Louise was silent for a moment like she was organizing what she was going to say. However, she still shook her head.
"I'm not going back."
"Onee-sama. I've already made up my mind. No matter what happens, I will always stay by Saito's side. So far I've been in many situations that I don't like. How many times it has happened, feeling betrayed, getting bullied, I don't really know. And if I really wanted to talk about it, his interests are very strange. That brain of his is useless, like it had been cooked. But, but really."
Louise grasped Saito's hand.
"For me, I don't want anybody else except him. There was one time I tried to forget everything and run away. However, forgetting about him was impossible. I think about him everyday. What is he doing now, things like that, I think about them all the time."
"... Seriously. They say that love is blind or something, and it really is true! However, a promise is a promise. That guy over there! I did make you promise me something, right? You must have manners fitting of an aristocrat. Well then, let's take a look at what you have now."
Now that she had mentioned it, he did made such a deal with her. However, as he was busy recently he had not had any chance to practice.
No, in fact even if he had practiced it would have been useless anyway... [HERE=] Even so, Saito tried his best to do an aristocratic bow. To feel the aristocratic soul flow through his veins...
Eleonore was silent. Saito couldn't help but shudder a little. Did this mean that their efforts were recognized? Is it okay now?
However, reality may not be as naïve as you think.
"A total failure! You know, if you really wanted to marry the daughter of a Duke..."
This time, Louise interrupted Eleonore.
"If you still can't permit this, I'll dismiss the Duke family's name from mine."
Eleonore's eyes went round.
"It doesn't matter if I'm not a noble. I don't even need the noble title. Because, that is not a choice I made myself. I appreciate my family, and also love my family. However, Saito is the only person I chose for myself."
Eleonore stared at her youngest sister, dumbfounded.
"Are you saying that, you're going to throw away the name of La Valliere?"
Eleonore buried herself in the sofa and gave a long sigh.
"En. Give me a minute. I need to collect my thoughts."
Eleonore frowned, and started to massage her forehead with her thumb. She then looked up at Louise with a serious expression.
"Are you serious about this?"
Louise nodded gravely.
"I really envy you, you know. Although I co~mpletely don't understand what it is that you find charming in this man, since you say he's a good man then surely he has something that is commendable."
Although this was not something nice to hear, Saito's entire body loosened up.
"Remember to give a proper report to Father and Mother."
Louise's eyes went wide in surprise.
"You and I are very similar. Stubborn and willful, we don't go against anything we have said. Anyway, even if we feel regret later, such is life."
"Thank you! Onee-sama!"
Louise gave Eleonore a tight hug.
"Seriously... Oh right, there's something else I need you to promise me. Starting today the two of you will not be sleeping in the same bed. Understand me? Before your marriage, there will definitely not be any sharing of the bed."
Louise and Saito nodded.
"However, the reason before was because there is only one bed"
"Also, you there."
Eleonore pushed her glasses, and glared at Saito.
"Starting from tomorrow, I will begin your strict training so that you will attain the manners of an aristocrat as soon as possible. After all, if you are really going to marry a daughter of La Valliere, without some degree of proper manners it will be hard for us to do anything. Since you don't have the foundation of family background, you'll have to make do with the foundation of your character."
Saito gave a final salutatory bow to Eleonore. If her parents were able to recognize the relationship between two people, then there wouldn't be any insurmountable difficulties ahead anymore.
"If you've understood that, go to bed. Right, make my room ready too."
Both of them nodded and returned to the second floor.
Eleonore, left alone again, poured some grape wine left over from the meal just now into her glass and finished in a gulp.
Her face turned slightly red. Eleonore raised her now empty glass and looked at it for a while.
"Ah~, where the heck have those good men gone..."
Eleonore muttered with a muffled voice.
Saito and Louise came to the second floor and entered the room prepared for Siesta before as a temporary guest room. Mattresses were available, so they opened the door for Eleonore to know this was the room prepared for her.
"Saito, where will you be sleeping then?"
After Louise asked about it, Saito pointed to the room next door.
"I'll take that room then. There's a sofa, so I'll sleep there for the night."
"Eh? That's not right."
"No problem. I've been sleeping on the floor for a long time before anyway, haven't I?"
Louise's face reddened when Saito said this.
"Never mind that, just things of the past. So, good night then."
Just as she opened the door and was about to return to her own room, Louise suddenly pulled at the hem of Saito's shirt.
"Huh? What's going on?"
Louise seemed to be blushing very shyly while saying,
"I'd like to be alone with you for another moment."
Louise is so cute! So, Saito followed Louise's wish.
Although the room had not been used for some time, it was still spotlessly clean. it seemed that Siesta and Mrs. Helen had been hard at work.
A lighted magical lamp was placed on the table, faint gentle light spreading out across the room.
Louise and Saito sat down on the couch beside the wall. Just as they sat down Louise immediately attached herself to Saito's body like a kitten.
There were no words sufficient to describe the blissfulness Saito was feeling.
Louise's words just now... were still reverberating in his ears. The young girl clinging onto him now had just said that she was willing to 'dismiss the Duke's name from hers' for him.
When he first met Louise... he felt that she was a horrible porcupine of a person that he couldn't get along with, and now she had became his soul mate. The transformation was incredible.
Just like that, with Louise leaning on him as he thought about things, suddenly all kinds of experiences came to mind.
Louise snuggled up to Saito, eyes shut as she asked.
"Hmm? I just thought about a little something."
"What kind of things?"
"For 'people', if you just judge them from what you see, you can't really see the their real side. Or rather, there's something in everybody's heart that they won't express at all."
"Of course it's like that, naturally."
"Sometimes I just feel like something as 'natural' as that is really unfathomable. It's like just now when Eleonore actually recognized our relationship, that was unbelievable."
"Yeah. However, I'm also thinking about the same thing. Getting Eleonore onee-sama's permission or something, really unbelievable. That was a first."
Everyone is hiding their true self, Saito thought.
Besides, everyone has all sorts of reasons for doing that, right...
This time, Julio's face surfaced in Saito's mind. A Romalian priest. The annoying familiar of the Holy Pope. A handsome guy, and nobody had any idea what he was thinking...
"But then again."
"That Julio guy was also like that too. That guy has been keeping a stiff upper lip all this time. What an annoying guy, and even now I'm still annoyed by him."
"I really want to know it, the truth. I want to know what actually happened to this world. Why I came to this world. I also want to know what I can actually do. What is right, and what is wrong. I will not run away from all these things. I don't want to be abandoned because I knew nothing at all, because I was a fool.
Louise said nothing and just nodded.
"So, Louise. The truths, tell me all of them. Or what you actually think. What you're thinking right now. Don't hide anything anymore, and don't worry about what I think about it anymore. Because you're everything to me. Now, what you're thinking, are you hurt, are you feeling unhappy, once I start thinking about all of this, my brain just stops working. In other words, how do I put this, I just don't feel like stopping. Because the world is spinning at an amazing rate... It feels like, if I stop now, I will just die."
Louise stared at Saito. Then, spat out her breath with a "pooh".
"I'm not talking nonsense."
"No, no, no. You've made a mistake, you know. I have been saying what I thought since a long time ago."
"Uhn. I can't hide anything from you. However, there was once I hid things from you. It was something I wanted to do, but I didn't say it. No, it's that I can't say it."
"But now, you can."
Louise nodded. Then she showed a gentle smile.
Her smile was enough to change the atmosphere in the room. Saito immediately found it hard for him to breathe. The vague concept that was 'living', suddenly had an outline and was rendered in a multitude of colors.
Louise's lips really have the perfect shape, don't they? Saito had this sudden thought in his mind. Also, why was there such a pleasant fragrance. A fragrance that came from nowhere.
Louise slightly opened her lips. Then weaving the magical words."Kiss me."