On that evening, I couldn’t sleep until late at night.
The futon has become soft and fluffy thanks to it being replaced with a new one, and I turned over many times inside the fluffy futon.
I muttered the familiar name. Just at that moment, I recall the smile that the orphanage director had when he stroked the back of my head during the graduation ceremony. I recalled the orphanage director, not my adopted brother’s biological father, whom I had never seen before.
I am thinking about what he might be doing around this time.
The moment I crossed over to this world, I felt that the director found me and was calling out my name. If that was not just my imagination, then that means I disappeared right in front of director’s eyes.
Right in front of him, a person suddenly disappeared. He must be wondering what was going on.
At the very least, I want to go back once more as Shikino Seiren and bid my farewell.
“…I can’t return there, can I?”
Since I was actually born here, to “return” there isn’t the right choice of words. However, I was raised in that world for about 18 years, so I felt like it was better to say it as “returning” there rather than “going” there.
But, I was raised over there since I was swept away from this house. Then, while I was being raised as a man in the other world, my parents and Jigen-san were desperately looking for me for 18 years in this world, and once they found me, they brought me back.
Hmm, it’s not completely my fault (for saying that “returning there” is the right expression). After all, at least the ones who brought me up as a man were in that other world.
And this is not a joke.
Who on earth was the criminal who kidnapped me? It’s not like they will come out even if we yelled at them to come out.
Oh well, I rolled over in my bed once again, trying to stop my thinking. The bed cover was so fluffy, so even if I was restlessly moving around, I was quickly wrapped up again by the bed.
“Coincidence, is it?”
I recalled Saryuu’s words.
That his real father’s name is Shikino Touya, and that he went to see Saryuu during the spring festival.
By coincidence, the orphanage director who raised me was Shikino Touya, the person with the exact same name.
That back I spotted during the spring festival, even though I couldn’t see his face, at that time I thought that it was really the orphanage director.
By any chance, if that back’s owner is actually Saryuu’s biological father, then honestly he’d be someone who looks a lot like him, yet he’s a different person, or so I can say.
“…That’s right. Yup, different person.”
I tried to cover my face with the fluffy pillow. Oh, if others were to see me like this, I think I’d look like a girl being troubled by love or something like that, right? Uwaa, I don’t want to imagine anything!
At least, I think it’s better for me to think that it’s a coincidence for the director and Saryuu’s biological father to have the exact same name.
In the first place, this world’s naming sense is similar to the other world’s. Even if I had my name in kanji writing in that world, I was living by the same name either way, “Seiren”.
That is why, let’s stop overthinking every single thing. No matter how many possibilities might arise, it’s still a different world, after all.
“Yup, let’s just sleep, sleep! It’s bad for your skin.”
…For me to have this kind of thinking, I wonder if it’s because I have returned to be a woman?
“Eeh, I have heard the story from Saryuu-sama. I wonder if there is some sort of connection to it?”
Somehow, even when I think that there’s nothing I can do for secretly thinking about it and feeling depressed about it, I decided to consult this to Kuon-sensei during my study time. Also, it seems Saryuu also discussed it in the morning.
“Is it alright for you to tell me what you have heard from Saryuu?”
“Yes, because I’ve received permission from the person himself. At that time, he allowed me to speak about what he said because Seiren-sama might want to discuss that matter with me.”
“Is that so…”
“In exchange, I may need to talk about what Seiren-sama told me when Saryuu-sama brings up this discussion again, is that alright?”
“Yes, please. If anything, it looks like it’s better for us to be sharing information.”
To affirm Kuon-sensei’s suggestion, I nodded in agreement.
For Saryuu, it’s a discussion related to the house in which he was born into. Considering that, my position to pry into this matter is inferior to him, however, personally, it’s something that I’m very concerned with.
“Well, it is certainly more natural to think that the same names are just coincidences. However, Touya-sama’s words are surely suspicious.”
“That’s right. On the other hand, as expected, I have to ask about this to my parents.”
“I think that’s a wise decision.”
If I ask my parents, perhaps we can also go and talk about it with the person himself afterwards. However, that might make things more complicated. Especially since I barely came back here.
“Nevertheless, I think for the moment being, it’s better for you to keep it inside your mind. The reason I said that is, most likely, there is a high possibility for Seiren-sama to be given a marriage proposal from the Shikino family.”
Aah, right. As long as Saryuu succeeds Shiiya’s house, I know that I must eventually become a bride and marry someone. Although I think that I should focus on spending my time for around 1 year in order to regain a little from the 18 years that I wasn’t able to spend together with my family.
Also, Saryuu’s house, eh. Now that I think about it, since Saryuu was sent out as an adopted child, then there should be another heir to succeed their family, over there.
“Saryuu-sama’s biological older brother will be the next feudal lord. However, he is still unmarried. If I remember correctly, this year, he will turn 28.”
“He is 10 years older than me?!”
“That is the way things are. Unfortunately.”
From the way she shrugged her shoulders, I get the feeling that it’s something that can’t be helped. I wonder is it really something that can’t be helped?
Still, I never have thought that our age would be this far.
Or rather, 28 years is twice of Saryuu’s age. So he has a big brother with that much age gap, huh.
While I was thinking about that, Kuon-sensei gave another example of age gap. Of people that I’m familiar with.
“Let me say this. This family’s husband and wife has 8 years age gap. I suppose… you didn’t know that, right?”
“…They have that much age gap?”
“Yeah. Unexpectedly, in the past Danna-sama seemed to have a baby face.”
In other words, my father looks younger than his actual age, so there was no need to worry about their age difference in the outward appearance. Nah, I thought their age gap war around 4-5 years, but it’s 8 years, eh.
Or rather, just how old are my parents? They look considerably old… Ah, is that why? During the time I was gone, instead of making another child, they took in an adopted child. Since I was a daughter they got in their late age, they might think it was impossible to have another child.
“Besides, it seemed like Danna-sama couldn’t decide on the marriage proposal easily. When he finally decided on Oku-sama, there was a rumor that his marriage was delayed because he was waiting for a good lady in the territory.”
“Ah, that’s a good way to perceive it.”
To say it in a poor manner, you’re way too selective, father. If we were to talk about a feudal lord’s marriage candidates, I think there must be a lot of suitable candidates, so I wonder what was in father’s consideration?
Truthfully, in comparison to Tou-san, Kaa-san has a lot more confidence. Really, I think she is reliable with the exception of her oyabaka part (doting parent).
How should I put it, was the Shiiya family doing well up to that time? Did Yuzuruha-san work hard? And was my father, as the person who would succeed my grandfather, working as hard as he could?
“…Well, I now understand more or less why Saryuu became an adopted child. As well as the reason why my abduction was being covered.”
I can say with confidence that it’s an issue related to the territory. With the daughter who’d be the heir gone, there would be someone who’d step in to compete at the critical moment, surely. In our territory, there is a confectionery shop whose owner seems to be prosperous, and if he were to be the feudal lord, he would be completely exhilarated.
In order for that to not happen, they pretended that I was in the middle of recuperation, so I couldn’t go to the public, and they also properly took Saryuu as their adopted child and appointed him as the heir.
Could it be that Tou-san was being overly particular about his marriage partner because he was considering problems related to the territory such as that? If that’s the case, then I can understand.
“Well, that’s right. Ever since the start of the experimental pepper cultivation, Shiiya territory’s revenue has been increasing.”
“In a sense, it’s our special product, right? Even merchants have their eyes on it.”
Riiight. These kinds of problems are so troublesome, really.
Even if Saryuu would succeed as the heir, wouldn’t it be useless if you didn’t prepare to solve these problems to a certain extent before that, Tou-san?
It’s not a historical drama, but it would be very troublesome if there was a retainer who’d do something behind the lord’s back and take an advantage of his position.
At the end of the day, we decided to observe the situation for a while. During that moment, I studied a lot of things, so that at the very least I would be able to follow my parents and Saryuu.
At the end of my study time, Kuon-sensei smiled at me.
“Starting from the next month, I think that the things I’m teaching you will be increased, with the exception of reading and writing, and etiquette. Please be prepared.”
“Yes? Uhm, so what am I supposed to memorize?”
It appeared at last, the upper class’ business!
…or, is it really what I think it means? I need to check it, check it!
“Is it as I thought it is? Making a pair with a man and then matching our steps to the music, kind of thing, right?”
“Yeah. What do you mean by ‘As I thought’?”
“It isn’t something that was closely related to my surroundings, but it looks like there were some kind of a ball attended by the rich people. However, it was basically the custom of the old days.”
Haa, as I thought, it was that, huh.
Nah, it’s fine, though. After all, I’m getting tired of the former herbivorous system where I’m just sitting down writing alphabets and reading books. If it’s a dance lessons, then it would mean I will be moving my body, and that will serve as a change of pace.
“Well, it will be awful if I were to step on someone else’s foot. I’ll be looking forward to it.”
“Yes. I’m also saved by the fact you’d accept the lesson without any resistance.”
There’s no way I’d resist, it’s something I must do, eventually.
If my dancing skill is poor, I will bring my father and the others shame, won’t I? Because the so-called villains would poke their nose even for any trifling matter.
Yeah well, I also don’t want to fall down because of a mistake I make during dancing, that’s the most important thing.
Kuon-sensei’s expression turned stiff, even though she was smiling up until now. Being stared at with that serious expression, I reflexively straightened myself.
“Please keep the talk we had just now as a secret. Ignoring whether the Shikino family is innocent or not, if this kind of talk leaks out, I believe it won’t be finished as a matter between the Shikino and Shiiya family only.”
At my teacher’s words which she said in a lower voice than her usual tone, I couldn’t say anything and just nodded.