Translator: Imlartis Editor: Queenie
I ignored the islanders and tourists looking at us and just continued running. And like this, holding the boy all the way, I arrived at the small isolated inlet where I first met Juri.
Just like that time, the waves were crashing peacefully and there were no people around. I relaxed at last and all my strength left my body.
「I-it should.. be.. fine.. here.」
I couldn’t say anything else. Panting, I put the boy I’d been holding down and just sat down there. No matter how much smaller he was compared to other boys his age, I didn’t have enough stamina to run at full speed while holding a child and not be out of breath.
As I was wondering whether those people did something bad to Juri, I lifted my head and looked up at the boy who was standing frozen next to me and looking at me from above. Seeing his expression I gasped without thinking. He was glaring at me with eyes like he could start crying at any moment.
The boy who had both his hands clenched tightly growled in a low voice.
「Why did you protect me…!」
Hearing those words I blinked without thinking. I tilted my head while wiping the blood off my forehead with the back of my hand. Seeing my reaction, the boy growled angrily, but I could only tilt my head some more. After all, that was it. It was a pointless question to ask.
「Why, you ask. Do I need a reason to protect you?」
「Of course you need one!」
At my bewildered voice the boy’s face looked increasingly like he was about to cry. Then his lips trembled.
「After all… I’m not “your Edi”!」
Those words hurt. My face with my wide open eyes was reflected in the boy’s eyes.
All this time I’d been thinking that for the boy I wasn’t the real 「Filmina」. I thought that was the reason why he didn’t try to communicate with me more than necessary. But that wasn’t it. I was wrong. The one who hadn’t acknowledged the boy as that man, was in reality me. I was always comparing the boy with the man I had in my heart. I only realized it after the boy pointed it out. I hadn’t noticed it myself but there was no way the boy, who was more sensitive to the subtleties of human heart, hadn’t noticed. Just how much had I hurt this boy till now?
「… I’m sorry Edi.」
「Why are you apologizing?」
「Because I’ve been hurting you all this time.」
「You are the one hurt! You got such a wound protecting me, even though there was no need to!」
「This wound is nothing compared to your wound.」
The boy bit his lips for a moment and lifted his hand over my forehead. From those pale and thin lips, I heard some magical words which I couldn’t understand. I was sure they were magical words used to summon the water spirit. However, this healing magic wouldn’t have any effect on me. The warm light gathered in the boy’s hands dispersed. I smiled bitterly at his astonished expression.
「Water spirit magic doesn’t work on me.」
He must have been very confused since he tried using magic even though he should have known it wouldn’t work. It was an unusual blunder for the boy, who tried to always stay level headed. His expression became twisted as I said those words. It wasn’t as if I wanted him to make such a face, but I always failed.
「As always, I only get protected by you.
He murmured in a timid voice. I opened my arms towards the boy, who opened his heart at that place and hugged him tightly. It was a thin and small child’s body, completely unlike that man’s. Even then I had finally realized that this boy, this child, was truly that man. This child who was so stunned by being pulled into my arms, that he even forgot to resist, was none other than that man. While not letting the boy see me, I thought self-mockingly that I was very late in realizing that. Then, I once again let go of him and put my hands on either side of the face of the boy, who was now above than me.
「I suffer much more when you get hurt, than when I myself get hurt. I don’t want an apology. Listen my beloved Edi. Do you know what words I want to hear?」
This time the boy gasped. No tears fell from his wet eyes. The boy at this time still hadn’t remembered how to cry. The first time I saw him cry was at the time when I collapsed because of Cerves’ magic a few months before. Both back then, and now, and the time I got my back injured by the flame spirit. The tears he cried and the ones he hadn’t cried, all of them hadn’t been for his own sake. He had never cried for himself. He was a kind child, who only cried for someone else. How could anyone get scared of such a child? How could they hate him? Why did I unconsciously want to protect this child who cried for my sake? Yes, that’s right, my beloved boy.
After having a close look at my face, the boy’s lovely lips, which were like cherry blossom petals dancing in the spring air, finally moved awkwardly.
Hearing those words I responded with a smile.
「Yes, you’re welcome Edi.」
The sound of waves was reaching our ears. I tried to get up, but the boy stopped me and pressed the hem of his overcoat to my forehead. I felt a pang of pain. I only now realized that the blood was still flowing out of the wound. I heard that it was difficult to stop the bleeding of wounds received on the head. Such a situation must have been scary for the boy even if I smiled.
「Edi, you’ll get dirty.」
「It’s fine, so be quiet.」
His tone hadn’t left any room for objection, so I nodded obediently and sat back down. We stayed like that until the blood stopped flowing.
* * *
Afterwards we returned to our current residence, the second house of Nibbiella family, while avoiding people’s gazes and with our hoods pulled all the way up.
After arriving at home, the boy took out the emergency care box from the back of a shelf, sat me down in a chair and skillfully treated my forehead wound. He stopped his hands every time I grimaced at the sting of the disinfectant so it took a while, but all in all it was a thorough treatment.
「Thank you.」I said to which he replied seriously 「Can’t have a scar left on a girl’s forehead.」. I laughed unconsciously and got glared at.
Since we ate and drank all sorts of things at the stalls after lunch when it was time for supper we weren’t hungry at all, so in the end we didn’t have it. We both took a bath and around the time I thought my hair dried, I looked up from the book I’d been reading in the living room at the clock hanging on the wall. I see, it’s that time already. I was completely absorbed in the book but if I stayed up any longer it would interfere with our work tomorrow. Thinking that, I lightly tapped the shoulder of the boy, who was sitting next to me and was also reading a book.
「Edi, shall we go to sleep?」
「…But I’m not sleepy yet.」
「Oh my, is that so?」
His mouth might have said that, but his eyelids seemed very heavy and his head was dropping slightly. I chuckled once again. I peeped at the face of the boy, who was desperately trying to fight off sleepiness and closed the book he was holding.
「In that case I’ll sing you a lullaby. Fernan often sang it to me, so I’m quite confident.」
When I was young, he’d often get into bed with me and sang to me when I grumbled that I wasn’t sleepy yet. I didn’t have talent for singing, but somehow the effect of lullabies was guaranteed.
「Treating me like a kid.」
At my proposal he looked up at me, and even though he was sleepy he seemed offended. Seeing that look, I somehow managed to swallow down the laughter that was about to escape from my mouth. Those words were a clear proof of his childishness, but the fact that he didn’t seem to have noticed made him cuter. I was a bit happy that I could witness this child’s childishness which I hadn’t noticed before. Although till midday today I had wanted him to turn back to normal as soon as possible, now I was thinking like this. I was selfish too.
I closed the hard-cover book I was holding on my knees, while thinking that if he heard my thoughts he would for sure say 「I’m not joking.」. The boy stubbornly tried to open his book once again and I took his hands in mine.
「I’m also getting sleepy. Would you like to sleep together today, Edi?」
「After all, were already married. Sleeping together is a given.」
I smiled brightly and the boy’s face instantly turned red.
「~~No need! I’ll sleep alone!」
He said in an uncharacteristically raised voice, shook off my hands, stood up and left the living room in a hurry. I waved the handkerchief which was laying on the table at the boy and sent him off with my eyes. This time I let out a chuckle. Ah, he was too cute.
Still chuckling, I opened the book again. After reading around 10 pages more I closed the book for good. I left the living room and went down the quiet hallway, my footsteps light, and stopped in front of the boy’s bedroom’s door. I was debating whether to knock on the door. I made a fist, but in the end I didn’t knock. I let my hand fall and just opened the door quietly.
There was no answer. Although I knew it was bad manners, I stepped inside. Inside I found the boy, fast asleep with his head on the pillow. He was holding a quill and he was surrounded by scattered papers with the magical language which I had copied. A sigh escaped from my mouth at this scene.
「He really is hopeless.」
Oh my, did the ink spill onto the pillow cover? I came thinking “what if’, but it was exactly as I’d imagined. Honestly, even though he turned into a child he was still such a workaholic. Once again I sighed in amazement. I gathered the scattered pieces of paper and put them on the bedside table. Then, I took the quill out of the boy’s hand and put it on the table too. There was nothing I could do about the already spilled ink, so without another choice, I lifted and moved his head carefully so he wouldn’t wake up, took off the dirty pillow cover. In its stead I spread a handkerchief and put the head of the boy whom I had turned on his back on top of it. His unconscious body was much heavier than it was this afternoon when I lifted him up, so it took a considerable effort to turn him, but I somehow managed to lay him on his back.
Having finished the task, I sat on the bedside and looked at the boy’s face once more. The letters got imprinted on his face and it made me want to laugh. I stretched my hand out and wiped them off with my fingers. It must have felt good because he snuggled up to me like a kitten which wants to be spoiled.
It seemed he was really tired as there was no sign of him waking up. His childlike, healthy sleeping face free of wariness was dazzling. His beauty made me think that the Goddess in high heavens must have been very enthusiastic. Even more than that man, this beautiful boy seemed like a girl. I even imagined he would look good in a dress.