Alica-san who had been watching the scene up until then was lightly tilting her head. She timidly stepped forward and turned to face the orphanage director.
“How should I put it… Touya-sama, is it? Then, you know that Seiren-sama is a girl?”
“Well, of course I know it. Because there’s this.”
The orphanage director narrowed his eyes with a complacent smile and spread the thing that he was holding for some time ago to show it at us. It was a small blue one piece. Its size was just right for a baby’s clothes.
Looking at it, my parents’ expressions changed unabashedly. My father muttered a few words.
“That was… what Seiren was wearing when she disappeared…”
“I figured so. It’s the sleep-wear that Seiren wore when she came to my place. No matter how you look at it, it’s a girl’s.”
Aah, yup. With that fluttering frills, it’s certainly a girl’s clothes.
So that was the clothes I was wearing at that time. I was wearing it when the orphanage director picked me up.
“I can’t use magic just like Touka, but I can at least read the magic language. Since it was strange for a boy to be wearing a girl’s clothes, I quickly understood what kind of magic spell was used.”
The orphanage director explained as if he was talking about some ordinary everyday topic as he suddenly lifted one of his legs and folded the one piece. I also folded the laundry on top of my knee occasionally. I was scolded several times when I did it while sitting down.
Jigen-san has also said that if you memorized the magic language, you’d be able to figure out what kind of magic spell was used. The orphanage director had properly studied it during his time being here. Even so, unlike his little brother, Touka-san, he had no talent for magic.
“However, I couldn’t erase the magic spell. I had no choice but to raise her as a man. I was glad because her name was there in the embroidery, but… this embroidery, was it Maya-dono’s…?”
“Eh, ah, yes. I left her care to the wet nurse, but I thought that I should at least do that much for my daughter.”
My mother nodded in a fluster towards the orphanage director who finished folding and pointed to the one piece’s collar. I see, so my name was embroidered over there. The orphanage director read that and named me Seiren.1
“I see. Then, although it’s been 18 years, but I’m returning this. This is an precious gift that Maya-dono gave to Seiren, after all.”
The orphanage director put the one piece on top of my mother’s hand and sighed a bit. It was as if he just completed a difficult task. My mother was still looking at the director blankly, perhaps she was still unable to comprehend the situation.
The orphanage director turned to face this direction—or Touka-san, to be more precise, and said, “Now, then.” At that moment, the smiling face that he was making up until then suddenly disappeared. Whoa, it was his angry face now!
“W-what are you-“
“No, no matter what the circumstances might be, I don’t want to make a disgraceful behavior of a Shikino to be known to public. Your personality is something else, but as a feudal lord, you seemed to have been working on your duties properly. And your heir seemed to be capable and good enough.”
The orphanage director was perhaps glancing at Taiga-san who was behind me. After he seemed to be smiling happily for a moment, he quickly returned his gaze towards Touka-san.
“Please be obedient and resign, Touka.”
“I was telling you to retire and stay confined in the countryside, and to leave the rest to the young man over there to succeed you. Otherwise, I’ll quickly spread what you’ve done until now. If things go that way, the Shikino house will also suffer the damage.”
“D-don’t joke around! I’ll make Maya’s daughter as my bride, and then…”
“Please just do what Uncle told you, Father.”
The objection that Touka-san threw from his mouth after confessing his crimes and took the hard punch out of it was ceased by the awfully cold voice that could be heard from behind me. I even forgot the fact that I didn’t want to see his face and turned around in a fluster.
Taiga-san was staring at Touka-san with eyes that didn’t contain any shred of emotion. He didn’t even have the same expression as the orphanage director, and it was horribly scary. I could tell with just a glance that he was really angry.
I thought that he was surely looking at me with the very same eyes as now, but.
“Seiren-sama, please wait a little bit. Saryuu.”
Taiga-san who said that to me as he lightly held my shoulders was still the same gentle young man that I knew very well. For some reason, I was so happy that I felt like crying.
He gently pat my shoulders and pushed me towards Saryuu. After that, Taiga-san approached Touka-san. Aah, his back even emitted his anger.
“Taiga! You, even though you’re my own son! W-what’s more, you even considered marrying that man-woman!”
“Yes, I’m certainly your son. However, I’m also the next head of the Shikino family. In addition…”
Taiga-san stopped talking and casually grasped Touka-san’s scruff of the neck. He suddenly lifted it up and pulled it closer until Touka-san’s face was just right in front of his eyes.
“The one who brought such hardships to Seiren-sama was you yourself. You don’t have any right whatsoever to insult her like that.”
There was a dull sound as Taiga-san’s fist smashed into Touka-san’s cheek. Whoa, since he was hit with his seized neck like that, he couldn’t escape from Taiga-san’s power at all. It seemed to be painful.
“Besides, even if I wanted to pursue a relationship with Seiren-sama, it is totally irrelevant to your desire, isn’t it?”
…Uhm. I felt like I’ve been told something so embarrassing without any hesitation. Look, even Saryuu who was standing next to me was covering his own face.
Leaving behind my feelings which were still in a mess, Taiga-san hit his biological father once more. This time it was his knee that hit Touka-san’s stomach. Then, he nonchallantly threw away Touka-san’s body. At any rate, he couldn’t defend himself in such a position and thus, he could only make weird sounds when he hit the ground.
When Taiga-san turned around, his face looked refreshed. Perhaps it was because he managed to land two hits like that, even despite Touka-san being his biological father… so I thought, but well, if I was in Taiga-san’s place, I’d also hit Touka-san, for sure.
“Shikino’s disgrace should be settled with a Shikino’s hands as well. We will punish him properly, and Father will be retiring. Though I think that our punishment isn’t enough with just that.”
“No, that’s fine. In the first, place it was a crime that was done by Touka-dono who went mad alone, so it shouldn’t be Taiga-dono or the Shikino family’s problem to take punishments in his behalf as well. Don’t you think so, Maya?”
“That’s right. I’ll be leaving the decision to you, dear.”
“Yes, thank you very much for your lenient judgement.”
…Ah-, I was relieved. No, I mean, I was thinking of what I should do if any punishment was also given to Taiga-san.
After all, Taiga-san also investigated a lot of things for me, and he also came to save me.
“Is it finished, then-?”
“It seems like that. Perhaps we should still be cautious of this old geezer’s magic until his time to return tomorrow morning. Although he self-studied magic, but his magic skill was apparently quite good.”
Whoa, Oriza-san and Jigen-san, just when did they come here? Everyone including the orphanage director was surprised.
Among those gazes, the grandfather walked slowly while lightly shaking the wand he held in his hand, and then, the surrounding plants simultaneously grew longer. The vines, the leaves, and everything else, in no time they finished turning the old geezer into a plant roll. Just what was that?
“Oh my, Grandfather. Thank you for your hard work.”
“Good grief, really. As expected, it’s really tiring to improve my transference magic skill within these 4 months.”
“Oh, old man. Thank you for bringing me back here.”
“Don’t mention it. I’ve heard the story from Seiren-sama, but I’ve never thought that you were actually a person of Shikino family.”
Jigen-san then laughed, “Hohoho!”—a typical laugh for an old man like himself, and he also tapped his waist. No matter in which world it might be, this kind of typical gesture was still the same.
Hmm, I see. So Jigen-san was summoning the orphanage director during his time locked up inside the ritual room. As a witness to what Touka-san has done. As a person who acted as my guardian from before.
Minoa-san was carrying Touka-san… uhm, and his close aide, Saiga-san in both of her sides, heading to the direction of the prepared carriage, guided by Yuzuruha-san. There still remained a dim light from the dismantled carriage.
Taiga-san and Saryuu were there by my side the whole time. Actually, there’s supposed to be an interrogation to what his father had done, but since my father’s here, then it’d be fine to leave the task to him.
That’s right. Taiga-san, it was very unexpected that his father could do lots of awful things and how they were completely unknown to him. And then, uhm. That, I mean… I feel happy because Taiga-san is there with me.
Taiga-san who hadn’t said anything suddenly turned to face the orphanage director as if he just remembered something.
“No. I mean, I have a request to another father who has brought up Seiren before. That is, if I’m allowed to ask of it.”
“To me? What is it?”
Uhm, well, to me, the orphanage director was certainly someone who was like a substitute for my father.
I wonder what request he would like to ask from the orphanage director.
“I want your consent to marry Seiren.”
I reflexively said that in my surprise. Saryuu who was beside me also muttered, “Oh my-.” And my parents as well as Kuon-sensei, I noticed that you guys just gushed out. Look, Alica-san’s face was also stiffening, wasn’t it? Oriza-san started to laugh!
Or perhaps I should say, no, no, no, no.
Taiga-san, you fully understood that I was a man until this spring, right? Is that okay?
“Hey. Uhm, your name is…?”
Meanwhile, the orphanage director asked his name in his astonishment. He then inclined his head curiously towards Taiga-san who answered frankly.
“Yes, then, Taiga. In the first place, you got the wrong person whose consent you should be asking for.”
“It’s not ‘eh?’!”
Well, I think so, too. But why would he suddenly ask it to the orphanage director… no, wait, no, no, hang in there, me.
Or rather, don’t escape from the reality at this kind of situation. This is something that’s concerning me.
That’s why, is it okay? I mean, it’s me. I’m the weird daughter who was tossed into a different world and was turned into a man thanks to a magic spell.
“Mondo-dono and I proposed to Maya-dono together in person back then, and Maya-dono chose Mondo-dono. Do you understand what I’m getting at?”
“…Eh-, ah-. U-un-understood.”
That’s what I wanted to say. Why would it turn into this kind of a conversation?
Or, uhm, what is it? My face was hot. I tried to touch my own face spontaneously, and as expected, it was hot for some reason. I wonder why?
Then, look. Everyone else including Jigen-san who was calm until earlier was making a broad grin while watching the scene. I wonder what kind of impression they had from watching me?
Whoa, my voice was unstable. Or well, what is with this situation? Just when did Taiga-san come in front of me and knelt there?
Why is that cool face of his getting so red?
“Are you willing to become my wife?”
“Eh, ah, eh, that, uhm…”
Why are you saying such things? Isn’t this weird?
“I-I, I was it, you know? Up to this spring, I was a man, you know?”
“Yes, I have heard about it. What’s with it, then?”
“No. I mean… doesn’t that make you uncomfortable?”
“Why would I be? If I left you because of it, then it’s my fault. After all, the one who put that magic spell on you was my own father.”
Taiga-san’s face was bright red but he could look at me with straight eyes. Those eyes haven’t changed at all from when I first met him.
It was as if nothing changed despite the fact that he knew everything now. Although Taiga-san hadn’t done anything bad at all, he said that as if it was his own fault, as well.
Though he knew just about everything, and yet.
“I would like you, the current you who’s standing in front of me, to come to my side.”
I give up.
If he said such a thing, then I’ve lost any kind of reason to refuse.
Or rather, is it fine if I don’t refuse?
“…Uhm. I don’t mind about Touka-san. In the first place, I don’t get why Taiga-san is also at fault.”
That’s why, first of all, I conveyed it clearly. And then, I need to say what needs to be said. After all, if I don’t do that, it won’t be conveyed to him, so.
“I had been living apart from my father and my mother until this spring. That’s why, I want to spend at least one year together with them.”
Taiga-san seemed to feel like, “That’s true,” and nodded. Thank you.
I might make you wait for me, but if you’re still fine with that.
“That’s why, uhm… Will you wait until the spring next year? If you change your mind during that time, uhm, like if another person uhm, appears, perhaps…”
“Then, let’s go out under the premise of marriage.”
What an instant answer. Moreover, he smiled as if he was extremely happy.
…Speaking of being happy, uhm what is it…
I wonder if I have really turned into a proper woman now?
“T-then, please take care of me.”
With a completely different kind of resolution from the one I had before the party started, I bowed my head. Eeh, enough, I don’t care about everyone else’s gaze at all!
- Seiren, using the kanji of blue lotus (青蓮). ↩