Thus, I puzzled throughout my daily life, which was in a sense glorious, but in other words extremely futile. Four years had passed since I remembered 『me』 when I met that man, right around the time of my seventh birthday.
Agedilus Von Lancent.
That man, with a name one would stutter saying, was the chief wizard of our country, my childhood friend, and then my fiance.
Yes, the chief wizard. He was admired as having the most magical power in the kingdom, and as mentioned before, one of the party of heroes that were our country’s last hope (hah).
You could say it’s foolish. In fact, I want to call it foolish. But unfortunately, the truth remains the truth. I had to take it face-on without running away.
He’s incredibly beautiful now. Some might argue about using the word “beautiful” to describe men, but I don’t know any other word more fitting to describe him. He boasts a face so beautiful that he’s equally matched in looks when standing next to the princess, who’s called the Living Jewel of our kingdom.
He has jet black hair that stays glossy without any oil, mysterious eyes with orange and purples mixing and swaying as if scooped out from a sunset. A tall, slim nose, and pale lips that change color like petals. White skin that’s forgotten how to get sunburned. Each of his features is perfect, his beauty standing out, terribly androgynous, like the night fairies that bards sing about.
……It’s strange how I slowly get angry when I talk about this. Why does he have such fine skin without doing anything for it? How is his hair so glossy? No doubt words like acne or damaged hair are unknown to him.
No matter how hard I try—actually, that’s fine. Well, it’s not fine but I’ll leave it for now. Because there’s a question I’ve asked myself countless times. We do have conflicts with him saying, “Must I praise my fiancée like a bard?” but, inevitably, the truth remains the truth.
Yes, that’s not the problem. What I’m referencing here is the question: why would a man like that be my fiance? Well, there’s… How should I put it? There are some rather unpleasant circumstances. If I talk about that, it’ll end up quite long in itself, and it’s not an interesting story.
My father, head of the Adina family, was the Governor of Magical Books and the man made to be Agedilus’s father, head of the Lancent family, was one of the palace wizards. The two of them had a deep friendship. The two families were close even before I was born, frequently visiting each other’s mansions.
Sir Lancent had soft, silver-black hair with blue eyes — he wasn’t showy or even beautiful, but he was the type that always suited a gentle smile…… I usually called him ‘Uncle Lancent’. And he was just my type since then. Absolutely perfect for me. The epitome of my type.
To be honest, even my father was called beautiful but Lancent’s personality was more to my liking. Whenever he visited us, I’d make full use of my privilege as a young girl to jump at him. My father would sigh at me, but oh father, you must understand this is what women are just like. Don’t think all women are like my gentle, pure-hearted, innocent mother.
Uncle Lancent’s wife had unfortunately already passed away by then. I heard she was a splendid personage, the vice-leader of the order of the knights – though not very ladylike. Since Uncle Lancent chose her, I have no doubt she must have been lovely. It’s unfortunate I couldn’t get the chance to meet her.
One day, Uncle Lancent suddenly brought a boy to our house, Agedilus.
If I asked, I was told that Agedilus’s family had distanced themselves from him due to his magical power, and Uncle Lancent had rescued him from his difficult life. But I didn’t know the details. But I didn’t know the details. Was it something you couldn’t tell children?
I wonder if I’ll never know after all. Well, it doesn’t seem like the present situation will change even if I was told what happened, so I have no intention of asking. I don’t have the free time to nag about not being told something that I’d be told if it was actually necessary.
The first time I saw that man…… No, I’ll call him a boy now. The day that boy turned up accompanying Uncle Lancent, I was told he was the same age as me but he looked much younger. Looking back, I now realize it was because until being taken in by Uncle Lancent, he hadn’t been fed properly and lost weight, malnutritioned.
But back then, I had no way of knowing that. I just knew that his coat looked more like it was wearing him than he was wearing it. He had a thick hood on, so I couldn’t make out his features. I remember instinctively comparing him to a kind of paper doll kids played with.
「Take off that coat, Agedilus, it’s alright now,」 Uncle Lancent said worriedly to the boy who he’d been secretly hiding, who would never take his coat off even if he was inside.
My parents were also there beside me, along with my brother and wet nurse. Agedilus firmly held the hem of Uncle Lancent’s clothes with his white, thin hand as he felt the gaze of all 5 of us on him, not removing the coat.
「Agedilus, it’s alright now.」 At Uncle Lancent’s soothing voice, the boy finally took his hood off. At the sight of his now exposed face, we Adina’s all had our breaths taken away.
I truly forgot the passage of time for a second then. That’s how shocking it was.
The first thing that captured my eyes was that magnificent black hair. It was the first time I saw hair that color since being born in this world. And then, under long, dark eyelashes of the same black color, were big eyes the color of the sunrise. I don’t know to this day if I was expressing how moved I was, but that black hair was nostalgic enough to make me burst in tears, those sunrise-colored eyes so radiant.
「Beautiful,」 I murmured without realizing.
Everyone there was incredibly surprised at me, from Uncle Lancent to my family members. But I think the one most surprised was the boy himself. His sunrise-colored eyes opened wide, staring at me. Even though I never meant to accidentally say anything wrong in the first place.
Although I certainly disliked how excessively thin he was, his beauty far excelled that. Even though he was young, he boasted an otherworldly beauty. If I had to describe it, yes, he was an angel. He was a fairy. And at the same time, he was an animal who had never been embraced by anyone.
When I took a step towards him, he took a step back to maintain that exact distance between us. The only one he let his guard down around was his adoptive father, Uncle Lancent, and he truly believed everyone else was a threat.
「I am Filmina Veer Adina, pleased to meet you!」 Not accepting defeat, I took his pale, thin hand and introduced myself. But he shook my hand off in a second.
……Ah, I see, he was the only exception for me. I want to be understood when I say it was only natural for me to give up then. No matter how cute or beautiful he was, he was impossible to talk to. They say the first step to communication is to smile and greet your partner, but what should you do when the first step itself fails?
I would wrack my head over what to do whenever the two of us were put out in the courtyard to play and he would never approach me.
When I tried looking at Uncle Lancent and my parents’ behavior around him, they may have been a little too drastic. I still wonder if their actions were excessively unreasonable. Although I was also raised with that same child-like treatment, that boy was completely different from other kids. If he did something wrong, the result might have been fatally damaging towards him. I think Uncle Lancent as well as my parents were both gambling when it came to him.
Whenever we were driven out to the courtyard, as if being kicked out, we were both silent as expect. My brother used to cling to me before, but then he was scared of Agedilus so he’d run away to my mother who was inside. So in the end, it was just the two of us. He was completely indifferent to me as I snuck glances at him, standing still doing absolutely nothing.
It was unbelievably awkward. He stood so still that I wondered if he was doing photosynthesis, not making the slightest movement. That beautiful face of his, so young yet so poised, was utterly expressionless. The only time his expression changed was when I unconsciously said “Beautiful,” and when I forcibly held his hand. Since then, he was completely expressionless.
It was painful to watch. Incredibly painful. Even if I was 30+ on the inside, when the other person is an angelic, fairy-like seven-year-old, everyone has their limits. I didn’t even have any experience working with children, there was no way I could handle accompanying a child who’d gone through trauma.
And so, if you ask what I did then, the answer simply is: I gave up again.
I could then read magical books written for children in the normal alphabet with magical vocabulary mixed in. So I simply took up position at the bench in the courtyard, book in hand.
Even if I managed to read it, whether I could implement it in reality or not was a different question. But there was no option for me except to eventually get married into another noble family, so I thought if I, daughter of the Adina family, could gain even the minimum information I possibly could, I might be able to increase the options of my possible in-laws. Clever, if I do say so myself…… Or, rather, I’ve been endeavoring to behave admirably since then.
Well, if he wants to photosynthesize then he could do that to his heart’s content. Maybe he could self-produce his own nutrition like that and gain some weight — wouldn’t that be perfect?
As to whether that was actually what I thought, I’ll leave that be. Anyway, under that incessant sunlight, I gave up on that boy – that boy, who was like a spirit visitor from a distant realm – and decided to immerse myself in my own hobbies to my heart’s content.
I wonder if you could call it childish of me. But I’d already grown up. My good ear had gone bad with age. I did somehow feel a gaze on me sometimes, but I was more crazy over the magical books in front of me then. The magical language was always difficult to understand, and I had trouble reading it even when I read each word carefully. But that trouble was more than just trouble, it was more like having fun.
Once, as I was struggling to read a magical book with my 7-year-old mind, a human shadow fell across the pages. Was it my brother who’d run away earlier, coming back to ask me to read him a picture book as usual? I wondered, as I raised my head, and then reflexively blinked. Blinking was only natural then. Because looking straight down at me were a pair of sunrise-colored, wavering eyes.
How had he gotten in front of me before I even noticed? I stiffened out of surprise, and he simply looked down at me, expressionless. He stared intently at the book I was holding in my hands, and then began to leave.
At that very moment, the page I was on was not written in magical language but in the everyday alphabet, an entry called: About Magical Power and Physical Appearance.
According to it, black hair was a sign of magical power. The closer to black someone’s hair was, the stronger their magical power was. In other words, with his jet black hair, that boy’s magical power was endless.
But to me, that black hair was so commonplace in my 『past』 world, yet rarely seen in this one…… No, not just that, that boy had black hair like no one else did. Before I felt fear or awe, I felt an indescribable nostalgia looking at it. That was the only reason I wasn’t scared of him.
But that had to be why he suddenly approached me. I’d approached him earlier on a whim, holding my hand out to him, a wounded animal. If I hadn’t done that, no doubt he wouldn’t have approached me either.
「Um, Sir Agedilus? Why don’t we read this from the beginning together?」
Pronouncing his name was no small feat for a seven-year-old. He turned and looked at me with a terribly surprised face. Maybe you could’ve called it a face about to cry, as it was apt to do. But I don’t know now. But his only response was the fact that he silently sat beside me.
Although he could read to a certain extent, he had neglected learning the magical language, so we read the magical book together with me helping him. I dare say that might have been the beginnings of what led to today.
And then, in those days I carefully watched him beside me as the animal who had never been held by anyone slowly became tamed.
Whenever he came over, I’d go into my father’s library, take out magical books as I pleased, and read together beside him. On sunny days, we’d read on the bench in the courtyard, and on rainy days in my room.
Whenever he’d visit, my brother would always hide at first. Before I knew it, he grew very hostile towards him. There were times he also said 「He’s more important to you than I am!」as he wailed and howled. Of course, that wasn’t it at all, but my brother couldn’t help seeing it like that.
He would be crying, wet eyes the same color as mine, clinging to me and glaring at Agedilus, as the latter one simply looked at my brother, expressionless. It wasn’t as easily worked out as a pleasant little fight between fellow children. To be precise, it was like a small battlefield of carnage.
By the way, presently they’ve fallen into a sour relationship – if they’re forced to meet, they smile and begin a war of words. It all happened before I could realize, until it was too late. Well, I’ll leave that story be for now.
Well then, me and him would sit together on the bench in the courtyard just like that, a magical book in front of us, turning the pages absolutely slowly and gently. I really did love that time.
The first time I sensed his magic was that day. We were sitting out on the bench in the courtyard under a clear sky, reading together as usual. By that time, his behavior had gotten better than in the beginning, and although he still spoke far less than normal children, he was incomparably better at talking than he was at first.
「Um……. Spirit Magic, which involves borrowing the power of spiritual beings, has spread extremely, due to the fact that the magic is induced by one’s compatibility with the spirit, no matter what one’s personal aggregate amount of magical power is…….?」
「…….It says that each and every single person holds a certain amount of magic, but it’s not like you can use magic with just that. But in Spirit Magic, if you have an affinity with a spirit, at least you can use the spirit’s power too, and be able to use large amounts of magic.」
「Is that so?」
「Yes. It was written in one of my step-father’s magical books.」
He replied with no hesitation, but I broke into a cold sweat internally. Although being influenced by him meant I was progressing at a faster pace, I was made to realize once again about how he was not only good in looks but brains as well.
At the time, my knowledge of the magical language was still more than his, but I could see that if I was careless, I’d be quickly overtaken. Preparing for the next time we read together is vital, I decided childishly as I turned the page. It was then that I sensed it.
I’d carelessly cut my finger as I was turning the page. Paper cuts are just simply painful. As I looked at my cut finger, groaning in pain on the inside, he grabbed my hand.
Compared to when we first met, his hand was finally rounder and child-like. He gently pressed it to my cut fingertip.
His lips spoke ancient words, indifferent to me as they made me blink. Without warning, a ring of water suddenly appeared and surrounded my cut,and then vanished. Dumbfounded, I speechlessly looked at it to see the wound I’d been watching over had cleanly disappeared along with the ring of water.
「…….Was that Spirit Magic?」
「Right. I simply borrowed the power of a water spirit.」
Even I, who still was in half-doubt over the topic of magic despite the amount of magical books I read, knew that suddenly using magic and succeeding at a crucial moment was not something a normal person could do. I understood, ah, so this is magic. To experience it directly didn’t make me full of adrenaline — rather, I was just surprised at how it looked like a mysterious Buddhist miracle of some sort.
As I stared at my fingertip, now painless and scarless, I somehow felt eyes on me. I turned to look at him, meeting his sunrise-colored eyes. Although his eyes were unexcited, unimpressed as usual, I realized by chance that there was more to it this time.
Why was he looking at me as if he was anxious, worried? Was he anxious because I gave him only silence after having magic done on me for the first time? It would be normal for any other child to be full of pride, and yet he was just anxious. It was somehow sad. That was probably the reason I grabbed his hand as he silently tried to let go of mine. He blinked in surprise, and I smiled at him.
「Thank you, Sir Agedilus.」
That was all I could do then. But even so, he nodded slightly, a light of reassurance in his eyes. That’s why I want to believe my actions then weren’t wrong.
「…….It’s not a big deal.」
I’m the only one who knows his ears were slightly red as he turned his face away, saying that. I wanted to say that no, it really is a big deal, but I swallowed those words up.