Translator: Imlartis Editor: Queenie
As I felt my body being shaken, my consciousness started rising to the surface from the bottom of a sea of sleep. The feelings of sleepiness and that I had to get up were competing with each other until the latter finally won. I slowly opened my eyes and lifted my upper body from the bed. It seems I had fallen asleep. I fell asleep in a somewhat bad position, half-sitting, so all the joints in my body were screaming in protest. I stretched my stiff body and smile at the boy who woke me up.
「Good morning Edi.」
No response. However, the boy sitting on the bed let out a sigh of relief and that was enough.
That said, I had somewhat hoped that when I opened my eyes in the morning he’d be back to normal but it seems it won’t be that easy. As if to escape the line of sight of the boy who was staring at me, I got up and stretched my body once again.
「Let’s have breakfast first. Ah, but ingredients…」
「… A little bit ago…」
I didn’t even have the ingredients to prepare breakfast. I had no choice but to go to the market. At my suggestion, the boy opened his mouth. I tilted my head and the boy started speaking calmly.
「A little bit ago, somebody who introduced themselves as the lady’s servant left a package.」
「A package? You received it Edi?」
「No. The person just called out from the entrance and left it there.」
That was quite irresponsible. That said, I was grateful for that mistake at this time. I nodded and headed to the entrance. There I found a box. I managed to somehow carry the box, which was a lot heavier than it looked, to the table in the living room and opened the lid.
I said without thinking and the boy, perhaps from curiosity, came to stand next to me and also looked inside. He blinked his big eyes.
Inside we found some pieces of children’s clothing, vegetables and fruit, sausages and a letter. I opened the white envelope sealed with a seal bearing the crest of Nibbiella family and took out the letter. There, in her characteristic handwriting, the Governess wrote that she would like us to receive the clothes prepared for the boy and some food necessary for the time being, as well as, that we should continue the investigation as we see fit. It was clearly stated that we would be regularly, at the same time as today, provided with a box of food. Relieved, I handed the clothes to the boy.
「Here. Lady Leticiela prepared these for you. I will prepare the breakfast, so please use this time to take a bath and change into these clothes.」
I said that because yesterday there was no time to take a bath. The boy nodded silently, took the clothes and left the living room. I sent him off with my eyes, rolled up my sleeves and carried the box to the kitchen. At the lady’s command, there was only food that could be eaten straight away without special preparation. It wasn’t monotonous and wasn’t lacking in the slightest. Let’s prepare something to his liking, I thought. Although saying “prepare” might be too much, as it wasn’t anything that complicated.
I put the water to boil in a pot, cut vegetables into appropriate pieces and cut the sausages into single-bite sized pieces. Then I tossed everything into the boiling water together with dried herbs. I let it stew for a while and when the sausages let out the stock I added spices and let it stew once again. I scooped out the soup into a small plate and tasted it. It was seasoned just right. Since before, that man hadn’t liked complex flavours. This kind of simple herb seasoning was perfect.
Afterwards I cut the bread and as I was peeling the fruit, I suddenly I felt a presence and lifted my head. There the boy who has finished bathing stood silently while watching me. I put down the fruit and the knife, washed my hands and went over to the boy. I was relieved that he didn’t back away. I bent down and looked at his face.
「That’s good. It seems like the clothes fit perfectly.」
Both the sleeves and the hem of the clothes we received from the lady yesterday had been too long, but the ones he was wearing today seemed as if they were made especially for him. They were light summer clothes like boys of noble families wore. The kneecaps visible under the short trousers were mesmerising. If I said that this boy was my husband, I’m sure I’d be treated like a criminal.
「My, my. Your hair is still wet.」
Using the towel the boy had around his neck, I wiped the black hair which was dripping water. If it’s not wiped properly, the precious cuticle would get damaged. Even if the Goddess herself forgave such a waste, I wouldn’t.
As I continued gently wiping his hair, the sunrise colored eyes peeked out from underneath the towel were shaking with confusion.
I tilted my head at his haltingly mumbled words and when I decided his hair was completely dry I put my hands down and hung the towel on the boys neck.
「This should be enough. Let’s eat breakfast.」
After the boy nodded I had him go and sit at the table first. I brought the soup, bread, peeled fruit and the knife and put everything on the table. I set the breakfast down in front of the boy who was sitting at the table in a well mannered way, like a doll, as well as in front of my own seat, and then I sat down.
「Well then, let us give our thanks to the Goddess, who is in the high heavens, for her blessings.」
「Let us give our thanks.」
I said the words of the prayer which were always said by the man and the boy responded in a soft voice. Then he took a spoon in his hand and brought the soup to his mouth.
His sunrise coloured eyes widened in surprise and he started stuffing his mouth with abandon. Great, that’s a good reaction. Growing children should eat a lot and get big fast… but I already knew the result. At this rate, by the time he returned to his normal size I would already be a grandma. As I was thinking that it’ll be a problem if he didn’t turn back soon, I stretched out my hand towards the boy’s cheek. He trembled in surprise and his hand stopped moving. I laughed.
「You have some on your cheek.」
As I wiped the soup off his cheek, the boy’s face turned red in an instant. I let out a smile at the situation before stretching my hands towards the peeled fruit to eat. I started peeling again and asked the red faced boy who was eating at a slower pace than before.
「Edi, how old are you?」
His hands stopped suddenly. He lifted his sunrise coloured eyes from the plate, looked towards me and put his spoon down at the plate’s edge with a clank.
「… 10 years old.」
「Is that so? Then approximately one year has passed since you’ve entered into the mage’s academy, right?」
The boy nodded silently. On the surface I continued to smile, but on the inside I was wrapping my arms around my head and writhing in pain. I’d know since last night but to actually hear it from the boy himself… The weight of those words was unthinkable. I see, 10 years old. 10 years old. What was I supposed to do?
Maybe he found my silence suspicious as he continued looking at me without eating. I managed to somehow smooth out my smile and tilted my head.
「Edi, you must also have a lot of questions you want to ask me, right? Go ahead. I’ll answer as long as it’s within my ability.」
The boy blinked. He looked at me with those sunrise coloured eyes which were exactly the same as that man’s, and opened his thin, lightly coloured, which couldn’t be called crimson.
「Last night you said that I got smaller, but what did you mean?」
I told the detailed story of how that man regressed both in terms of body and memory. As the story progressed, the boy’s already white face gradually turned ever whiter, or to be exact, paler. That was completely normal. The 10 year-old boy woke surrounded by unfamiliar adults and was told 「You aren’t the real you. Your adult self has just turned younger.」 Of course, it wasn’t phrased this directly, but if you summed it up, there was no difference. If I was told that… Just what would I have thought? I couldn’t even imagine. And that was exactly what I’d told this 10 year-old boy.
「I get the situation.」
His voice as he interrupted me was much calmer than I thought. His face, although pale, had a calm expression. From the beginning, his expressions never changed much, but inside he might be even more nervous than me. Even then, I was relieved at his reaction. If he hadn’t believed me, if he’d denied it or if he hadn’t believed I was Filmina… Just thinking about it made me unable to stop trembling. It was precisely a time when I should have kept myself together, but I let myself become so disheartened.
I heard something completely unexpected. I stiffened without thinking and the boy continued expressionlessly.
「I’ve caused you trouble.」
「But that’s not your fault.」
「I don’t know what my adult self was thinking, but I think that me becoming like this is the fault of my own carelessness.」
What a thing to say. I was at a loss of words at his straightforward gaze. It was a sense of responsibility beyond what a 10 year-old boy should possess. I wanted to let the adult man himself hear those words.
「And」 the boy continued.
「What is the relationship between my adult self and you?」
The boy nodded again. I was looking for the right words. It would be best to just say the truth. It’d be easy to say we were husband and wife. Since we’d gotten engaged at the age of 9, then for the 10 year-old boy it should be the obvious result. However what the boy was asking about, for him wasn’t a decided future. I felt a bit sad at this reality. But I understood that something like a decided future didn’t exist. And then there was the situation with our engagement. Taking into account that in the beginning I had no idea that we’d gotten engaged, what this boy was asking about, was it that natural?
I calmly judged, that I should keep quiet. One could say, that no matter how much younger he got, he was essentially the same man, but I didn’t want to impose a future on the boy who still had prospects ahead of him. However, I didn’t want to lie to this boy who had been watching me with those serious eyes and worried about me before worrying about himself.
「Well, um, we got married.」
I said in a muffled voice and the boy blinked.
「Me and you?」
「….. I see.」
Oh my. His reaction wasn’t what I’d expected. That was all? I wanted to ask. No, instead of getting stupidly disappointed, I should have been happy with this reaction. And after I made up my resolve to say that we got married. I thought and got up from the chair.
「The soup has gotten cold. Please wait a bit while I reheat it.」
I had no way of knowing what expression the boy was making, as I took the plate of soup which was in front of him and turned away.