When we finished our breakfast, the tea was brought in. The type of tea that I drunk first is actually the most popular type of tea in this world. The orphanage director smiled and said, “Oh-, I’ve missed this!” as he tasted the tea.
After drinking one sip of his tea, my father looked straight at Taiga-san.
“Taiga-dono should also return home after this and quickly file the notice for your succession as the head of the family.”
“Yes. Though I think the procedure is quite difficult, I’ll try my best.”
So there are things such as filing a notice and a legal procedure. While I was wondering if there was any public office like that, the orphanage director placed his cup and heaved a small sigh.
“Before performing your duties as a feudal lord, it’s necessary for you to clean up the house as the head of the family.”
“That’s right. Ever since 30 years ago, the servants that are currently present in the Shikino house are mostly Touka-dono’s people who would move in accordance to his orders.”
“By removing his close aide, Saiga, it will be quite difficult to manage the residence from now on.”
Ah-. I can somehow understand what my father and mother are talking about.
The family quarrels that I’ve seen in historical play were mostly settled with the narration after beating the mastermind and their underlings, but in actuality, things don’t work that way. Cleaning up after such a quarrel is going to be so difficult, huh?
Especially in this case, though it’s good that we’ve beaten Touka-san and Saiga-san, there still remained their subordinates in the Shikino house. Taiga-san, I wonder if he’d be all right?
When I looked at his face at a glance, he smiled as if he was all fine. And just like that, Taiga-san nodded and told my parents and the orphanage director, “I’m fine.”
“It’s a major thing to do, but even if I’m young, I also have some capable subordinates. Besides, there are also people who’ve been there with us just like Saya.” (Taiga)[1. The raw doesn’t have the speaker’s name like (Taiga) that I wrote, since it’s possible to distinct some people based on their way of speaking, such as pronouns used. However, once it’s converted to English, that disctinction is lost, and this conversation might be confusing if I don’t put the speaker’s name like this, so that’s why I’m putting their names, in order to avoid any confusion made.]
“She’s a maid who was also my wet nurse. She is Kaya’s little sister.” (Saryuu)
“Ah, I’ve heard about it before. I see, so she’s called Saya-san.”
Saryuu has ever told me about it once, so I knew Kaya-san’s little sister’s name. I see, so she’s still in the Shikino house.
Because her little sister was Saryuu’s wet nurse, Kaya-san became fond of Saryuu. That didn’t change even after 3 months ever since I came here, but it seemed like Kaya-san understood that I had no motivation to become the successor of this family, so she wasn’t as strict to me as before.
Nah, she is still strict to me, but I think perhaps that’s because she doesn’t want me to do anything disgraceful because I’m the daughter of the Shiiya family. Though Oriza-san often sulked like, “Kaya-san is sooo strict–!”
However, since that Kaya-san’s little sister is Taiga-san’s ally, I feel like everything will be all right, somehow. Though I have no basis whatsoever to say that.
“Yeah. Since Saya’s also there, I’ll make sure to clean up the Shikino house completely before welcoming Seiren-sama.”
“I’ll entrust that to you, okay-? Clean it up until it sparkles, Taiga.”
Taiga-san who could say such a thing calmly, and the orphanage director who answered as if it was natural, give me a break. Really, I can’t hide my face with just a cup of tea.
Both my father and my mother also seemed like they were having fun. Give me a break, really.
“Show me what you’ve got, as the new head of family. If something were to happen, I’ll lend you my power, so long as it’s within my capability.”
“That;s right. We’re connected because Saryuu is being taken care by us, after all, so we’ll properly cooperate with you.”
“Thank you very much, Mondo-dono, Maya-dono.”
“Don’t mention it. Today, I’m putting Yuzuruha-san as Touka-dono’s escort. I’ve told the circumstances and handed some documents. Make good use of it.”
“Yes. Then, I’ll do so without any reservation.”
To my father’s concern, Taiga-san smiled and bowed his head happily. Aah, I see, it’s so that the things occuring here won’t turn into any big problem, or so it won’t be carried away to the other area, huh.
When the tea time was almost finished, the orphanage director turned around to look at everyone inside the room. Then, he said a few words with a tone that seemed as if he was saying something totally ordinary.
“Nnn–. I should also go home soon.”
What did he say so abruptly… so I thought, and everyone in the room, including me, focused our gazes at the orphanage director. By going home, where is he referring to… Like, the Shikino’s residence? That didn’t seem like it. Which means…
“By going home… did you mean to the other world?”
“Yeah. The grandpa also said that it’d be easy to connect the two worlds yesterday and today. It’d be hard if we have to search and pinpoint the world again.”
I don’t quite understand what the orphanage director said, but in short, it’d be easier to return to the other world as soon as possible, huh. That’s why, he’s got to go home immediately.
…To the other world, huh.
I can’t go home, eh? Because everyone over there only knows the me as a man, so there won’t be… any meaning in returning there, right?
Besides, Taiga-san is also here.
“Touya-dono, you’re not going to remain here?”
“No, well, there’s already a new head for the Shikino family. I’ve been living there for 30 years, so there have been various things there.”
To my mother’s question, the orphanage director shrugged his shoulders.
That’s right, I was raised at the institution that belonged to the orphanage director. I’ve returned home, but there are still some children in that institution.
“Aah. Speaking of which, is everyone in the institution doing well?”
“Yeah, everyone’s fine and full of spirit. I’ve also told them that you’ve returned to the house where you were born. I’m glad that it was the truth.”
“The institution, is it?”
Aah-, I’m glad. The orphanage director had properly explained the thing that happened to me to everyone else. Next to me who felt relieved, Saryuu asked. That’s right, the only people here who knew about the institution are just me and the orphanage director. I have to properly explain it.
“There’s an institution that takes care of the children who have no parents just like me, or the children who can’t live with their parents because of some circumstances. And he’s the director of that orphanage or institution.”
“I was indebted to the person who was the previous orphanage director over there. So, I took their role over afterward.”
The orphanage director continued my explanation while laughing. Everyone went, “Aaah,” and nodded. Of course, me too.
So that kind of thing happened, huh. That’s why the orphanage director worked really hard in order to protect the institution when various problems occurred.
I was really raised by a truly good person.
“Well, and that’s why I can’t just leave those children alone. I’m sorry.”
“……No. If that’s the case, then it can’t be helped.”
“We’re talking about Touya-dono who has brought up Seiren to be such a good child. He would certainly raise the other children to be good children, wouldn’t he?”
“Haha, they’re nothing but brats, just like me, though.”
The face of the orphanage director who talked to my father and my mother who are his old friends, really looked like a brat’s face.
To send the orphanage director off, all of us went to the front of the ritual room. Jigen-san had already prepared things and seemed to be waiting for us inside the room. It seemed like the orphanage director had planned to return quickly from the very beginning. The clothes that he wore yesterday had been folded, and he brought it along, too. It looked like he was planning to return with the clothes he was wearing right now, I wonder if it’s okay…
After coming in front of the door, the orphanage director turned around. He smiled, and that smile seemed a little bit lonely.
“Well then, it’s fine to just accompany me until here. You wouldn’t want to watch me at the moment I disappear, would you?”
Yes. I don’t want to see it.
When I first came to this world, I felt like my hand slipped through the door and I was in an empty place somehow, or how do I put it.
Uhm, it made me feel quite flaky? To be honest, I don’t want to feel it the second time. I don’t want to recall that moment, after all.
“Mondo-dono. Maya-dono has chosen you, so take care of her until the very end, without fail. Maya-dono, too, live happily with him.”
“O-of course. You don’t need to tell me that.”
“Of course. …I’m glad to see you.”
I wonder if my father and my mother felt this close with the orphanage director back then? They were good friends, weren’t they?
My father hugged my mother’s shoulder as if confirming his resolution, and the orphanage director moved his gaze towards Saryuu.
“Saryuu, it’s okay to like your big sister, but keep it moderate, okay? You need to grow up well and find a good wife.”
“Yes, Uncle! I will try hard and become a man better than Nii-sama.”
“Yes, yes, well said! Do your best.”
The orphanage director brushed Saryuu’s head gently, it was a scene that I used to experience during my time as a man. At least, his expression remained the same.
And then the orphanage director’s eyes moved towards me and Taiga-san who was standing next to me. Aah, it was the gaze of the person who’s always taken care of me, my father figure.
“Be well, Seiren. You have to be happy.”
Somehow, this seemed like a real farewell, so I can’t say anything else other than that.
Despite the fact that we are only going to be in different worlds.
If something were to happen, we’d surely be able to meet again, but…
…Is that true?
“Taiga. If you make Seiren unhappy, I will come back here once more and beat you up.”
“Yes. Pardon me, but I won’t let that happen.”
The orphanage director said that, and Taiga-san answered while making a small laugh, and after that…
“Seiren-sama. It’s fine if you want to come closer.”
The moment my back was pushed, I couldn’t hold it back any longer.
I rushed off along with the momentum, and embraced the orphanage director. Ah-, I can’t, I shouldn’t cry. Stop crying, damn it.
“Yes, yes, really, why would you cry during the last moment, you little…”
The orphanage director seemed to be troubled as he pat my back.
Even though you’re in front of me like this at this very moment, I won’t be able to see you very soon.
The person that I was hugging so tightly, very soon, he was going to return.
My beloved… father.
“Really. You’ve turned into a crybaby ever since you’ve turned back into a woman, huh? Taiga is going to be a bit jealous, is that okay?”
While making a strained laugh, the orphanage director suddenly mentioned Taiga-san’s name. Eh-, what’s wrong with it… Ah, could it be, because I’m hugging the orphanage director? It can’t be helped, right? Damn it. Aah well, I don’t understand what to say at a time like this.
“You’re my uncle, and you’re also another father figure for Seiren-sama, so it’s fine. But well, to be honest, I envy you a little bit.”
“Ooh, envy, huh? Then, hold on to her. Don’t let go of her until your heart stops beating.”
The next moment after he said those words, the orphanage director suddenly removed my arms. Just like that, my body was pushed back. I think that my back hit Taiga-san’s chest.
Taiga-san’s hand which he put at my shoulder was really warm. As he held me a little bit strongly, instead of feeling pain, I felt relieved instead.
Ah, for some reason, I understand.
The place where I belong is really here.
“Then, that’s good.”
The orphanage director smiled as if he felt truly relieved at me who was wiping away my tears, and then at Taiga-san who was looking. Then, he turned his back.
“Then, I’m off.”
In front of the door which was tightly shut, I couldn’t move for a moment.
Sorry, Taiga-san, everyone.
Just for a moment, let me stay like this.
-End of Arc 2: Summer of Encounter-