A few days have passed since our confrontation with the demon in the basement. But unfortunately, there has been no significant change in the situation.
Day or night, the usual, unchanging nightmare creeps up on me as I’m unable to sleep properly.
As for a conclusion, it seems like the only countermeasure I have for now is to not sleep. But even though I have a peculiar condition where I remember my memories of the past world, I’m still nothing more than a mere human in the end. There’s no way I could stay awake all the time.
I have nothing to do but spend my days aimlessly, not finding a significant counter-measure either. In contrast to me, that man turns over every book he can, quite literally running here and there constantly.
Until now, he’d take on all the work he received just like that. But now, he’s started decreasing his work to the bare minimum, pushing on the work he’s entrusted to Widnichol. His free time, he spends on investigating about the curse on me. That literal workaholic man.
He brings all his documents home, decreasing his sleeping hours to the utmost, even unwilling to spare the time to have dinner. It seems like it’d be him, not me, who destroys his physical condition first.
To be honest, I feel uneasy because of it. But I know that he isn’t the kind of person who would listen to me even if I told him that, so this too greatly irritates me.
Apparently, common opinion is that curses will be broken if you destroy the demon whose power has been borrowed to get that result. But the curse placed on me isn’t that simple.
The princess calls this curse 『the seed of the flower』 but after coming so far, I once again understand how precise that description is. This 『seed』 created with the power of a demon has been planted in the seedbed that is my soul.
And now, it’s been completely separated from the demon. The curse won’t break even if the demon’s killed. The only way to do that is to directly have it broken by the person that has created this fundamental 『seed of the flower』.
How to put it…… It feels like a very persistent curse. There aren’t many curses you can make that would torment even this man. As for contracts with demons, despite how much this man calls them ‘low-ranking demons’, it seems it’s not at all ordinary to make sure that one’s name can’t be given in the terms of a contract.
Am I really hated that much? Or, is this man really hated that much? Either way, it’s no exaggeration to say my real intention is that I’d like to quickly have this curse broken by the whoever the offender is.
Ever since he found out that I’d been cursed, he’s started keeping a close eye on everything I do. For now, I won’t say whether I find that gaze awkward or annoying. Anyway, it’s a certain truth that I’ve caused great worry to that man. Well, no doubt even I’d be the same if our positions were reversed.
If I close my eyes, sleepiness immediately turns up to me even if it’s not night. A sluggish darkness steals all my vision, darker and deeper than the black under my eyes. My feet slacken, and just like that, I feel like I’ll sink.
Yes, certainly, just like this.
‘Ah, just as I thought.’ My voice is supposed to murmur that, but it won’t come out. Darkness spreads out in all directions, thick like dirty mud, and I can’t move freely. I can’t even understand which way is up or down, let alone front and back or left and right. I barely manage to take a step forward, that sinks down.
By the time I think, ‘Ah,’ it’s too late. My whole body collapses forward, sinking into the darkness. As I sink further and further in, I can strangely see with perfect clarity, the sight of people beloved to me as they cast me aside.
And then, even in the midst of that, what catches my eye the most is still that beautiful man. I know I can’t reach him, but I still can’t help reaching my hand out to him.
Then there’s the sight of that young girl leaving me aside, lightly running past me. The afterimage of her long, beautiful strawberry blonde hair is burnt into my memory. Without a moment’s hesitation, she jumps into his arms. The sight of it is so perfectly suited to that man, it’s as if they’ve been especially placed there. I stiffen, closing my eyes.
I know it’s not like that. That’s an illusion. It’s an illusion the curse is showing me. I know that very well. He told me that his wife is me and me alone. It’s not like I doubt his words. I myself have the pride that my heartfelt feelings for this man won’t lose to anyone else. But, even so. Why am I…
I can hear the crying voice.
That slow yet certainly steady feeling of floating down disappears by the time I realize it. I stand there in the bottom of the darkness, petrified and dumbfounded. 『She』 sits in front of me. 『She』 sobs without noticing me; I almost unconsciously take a step towards 『her』. The darkness trembles. Suddenly 『she』 looks up, seeing me.
A voice of rejection is thrown at me like a scream. At the same time, the crying voice suddenly gets distant. I’m forcibly brought back to consciousness. The crying voice echoes within me, in my ears.
My vision shakes, round and round. Even though there’s nothing but darkness, I can strangely feel the world rotating. Rolling round and round and round and round. I can’t even close my eyes. And then, the last thing I can see is.
It takes a little time for me to respond after my name is called. Filmina. That’s my name. I blink over and over again at the man looking closely at my face. Yes, as usual his face is beautiful enough to make me angry.
It seems like I ended up falling asleep somehow. These days, I end up dozing if I relax at all every day. Even today’s the same. I have no memories of what actually happened after I had dinner, and finished drinking some medicinal plants tea in the sofa of the living room.
At my clearly half-asleep response, the man makes a face that’s very difficult to describe, relieved or irritated. Then, he lets out a deep sigh.
「You were having a nightmare, are you alright?」
「Who else is here?」
「Ah, right……. That’s right.」
Whether I’m alright or not, the answer is no. But I don’t feel like being naively honest and saying that outright. I vaguely smile, and he furrows his brows. No matter how much I’m exposed to that sharp gaze from his sunrise-colored eyes, it doesn’t bother me after so long. But since I know just what he wants to say, I can do nothing but curl my body up.
「……Was I really crying out in my sleep that much?」
When I ask him a question back, he puts on a serious look on his beautiful face, nodding. Then, he puts his white hand on my cheek. I can’t help but tremble in surprise, but he ignores that response, putting the hair on my cheeks back behind my ears. It’s a surprisingly careful gesture, and I unintentionally stiffen. Ignoring that, he takes the bulky magical book placed on the low table in front of the sofa, and sits down beside me.
「I told you not to overwork yourself. And I also told you to sleep near me when you have to sleep.」
「That’s… right. I’m very sorry. I just thought I shouldn’t bother you.」
「…….I told you before too, that I don’t want you to apologize to me.」
The second apology is reflexively about to leap from my mouth; I suddenly realize and cover my mouth. Those sunrise-colored eyes stare fixedly at me, before he finally looks away and lets out a smalls igh.
「Your curse is using your dreams to capture and imprison you in your sleep just like that. If you sleep carelessly, you might just be unable to wake up, and—」
「Die of weakness?」
His way of speaking is matter-of-factly, but in fact, it’s surprisingly serious for this man. It reminds me once again the gravity of the situation here.
At my words 『die of weakness,』 he had twisted his beautiful face as if to click his tongue. His white hand touches my cheek, tracing a line from my cheek to my chin.
「I’m not telling you not to sleep. But, as much as you can. Don’t sleep anywhere I’m not there.」
I feel like I heard the word ‘please’ implied there. That attitude is rather admirable for this man——would it be a bit harsh for me, his wife, to say that?
With the present situation at hand, it seems the damage he’s received is really enormous. The last time I saw him being so tormented by remorse and regret was perhaps the time where I received these wounds on my back, was it? This man always has the wrong impression that it’s his fault, held prisoner by his guilty conscience, neglecting himself.
I put my hand on his as he touches my cheek, looking back at his face. Even with a shadow on his face, he’s still beautiful. But comparing it to his original beauty, I can’t honestly praise it.
「You’re the one who’s barely sleeping, aren’t you? Even if I make dinner for you, you barely eat at all, don’t you?」
Once I look closely, I can see there are faint bags under his eyes. It’s only been some days since he found out about the curse, and yet it can’t be my imagination that his cheeks look thinner. Well, it’s like the pot calling the kettle black, but even so, it still makes me want to object.
「Quite frankly, I would be lying if I said it didn’t make me happy to see you putting so much effort in on me. But it’s much, much worse for me to see you damage your health over it.」
He finishes dinner in his spare time as he reads books; he goes to sleep later than me and wakes up earlier than me. Then when it’s morning and he wakes me up, he lets out a sigh full of deep relief, and smiles.
His smiles like that are incredibly important to me. If we weren’t in this situation, I myself might smile back at him, but unfortunately it’s not the time for that. I can only be relieved, ‘I managed to wake up safely today.’
Well anyway, it’s obvious that if he keeps going on neglecting his sleep and eating, he’s the one whose health will be destroyed earlier than mine.
「But I can’t just say I’ll do things at my own leisure like that. You yourself know that.」
「Yes, I know. But that’s just why I think that you should properly have food and sleep, for when it’s the critical moment. If you can do that for me, I’ll put in as much effort as I can too.」