When I first opened my eyes, what first came to view were silver eyes that shine dully.
His grey irises shone, making me think of fine silver.
I lifted my somewhat swollen eyelids and the moment my gaze met those, he leaned forward towards me while shouting in an unusually loud voice, ‘Ah!’
He made a slightly miserable expression to show his heartfelt relief while looking into my face.
The moment I saw that expression on his face, I thought, Ah, I’m finally back. To reality. I missed this, this world that Bern is in.
For some reason, the area around my eyes turned wet, and began to sting, slightly twitching. I severely cried in the dream but it seems that I cried in real life as well. This is so embarrassing.
Nonetheless, when I looked at Bern’s face without moving my head, just staring blankly at him without wiping my tears, his face slowly turned dim with worry.
“Are you okay? Do you know where we are right now?”
I tried telling him, ‘Aren’t we in the monastery?’ but because of the unbelievable pain coming from the back of my head, I let out a throaty moan, Uuuuhhh~ instead.
When I tried to budge, surprised by the pain, I felt a dull pain from my back and my elbows.
Huh, wait a minute!? This really hurt! What the!?
I screamed deep down as to why so many parts of my body hurts like hell as I cautiously returned to a facing up position.
But for some reason, it felt like a pain that I’ve experienced before.
Ah, it’s just like the pain from that bruise I got from being pushed from above!
“I-It hurts everywhere…”
“I think that’s probably because you fell on your back without safely doing so or anything of the like. Lila said that when she turned around after hearing a loud sound from behind, you already fell on your back… Like you suddenly and quickly lost all strength?”
“What do you mean by that?”
I may have been an idiot from the start but since I’ve currently turned even stupider from hitting my head, I don’t particularly get what Bern wanted to ask. Actually, the back of my head hurts. Really bad.
“…This is just a maybe but she didn’t do anything to you, right?”
He knotted his eyebrows, making a grim face, as he asked.
Lila did something to me? Something… Ah! Don’t tell me he meant something evil? Like she pushed me?
“No, she didn’t!”
When I hastily said no, Bern said, ‘I see’ and his expression smoothly returned once more to a worried, slightly miserable one.
He plunged into silence after that and began to thoroughly wipe the traces of tears from my face. Ah, thank you so much for this.
His warm hands that were dry in some places felt cool and nice.
When I felt somewhat embarrassed, this time, he innocently caressed my brows and my cheeks.
“Is something wrong?”
“I’m just trying to confirm something.”
While I let him do that, he pressed down on both sides of my face and forcefully made a weird face with mine, my lips squished out.
I’m pretty sure that my face looks really bad right now. Or rather than bad, I mainly felt like an extremely shameful four-letter idiom right now– That’s right, which means–
“You look so plain.”
“Can you stop?!”
I tried to slap away Bern’s hands, forcefully escaping from making a weird face but when I did so, the backlash sadly screwed me over when it reverberated to the back of my head. Dammit!
Speaking of Bern, he plunked down on the chair to the side of the bed I was laying on as he let out a long sigh, Haaaa, and made a face as if his spirit had escaped his body.
What was it that you wanted to do, huh? Actually, what’s with that expression of yours? It’s kind of funny.
“I was worried…”
“Lila came to me, looking all flustered, and when I went to go look, you collapsed in the middle of the hallway, face all pale and no matter how much I called out to you, you wouldn’t wake up at all.”
Bern covered his face with one hand, and I had to strain my ears as he whispered as his voice naturally lowered.
After that, he let out another long sigh, Haaa, and he seemed really worried from how difficult it was hearing his worn-out voice.
“Anyways, I’m banning you from staying up all night ever again.”
Bern strangely said so, emphasizing each word as he sat, looking into my eyes.
Though I do wonder if the cause of my fainting is actually from staying up all night.
I don’t quite remember well but I do know a hand suddenly came from behind me and… now that I think about it, doesn’t that sound really scary? Doesn’t that feel awfully like a horror movie?
But wait, I’m sure that was a hallucination. Let’s just say I fell from anemia. Yep, that’s fine. I did have a really weird dream but I do wonder if that really was a dream. Although Bernhardt did say that one or two mysterious things do happen in this world.
My mind felt incredibly refreshed.
I was able to properly understand that I had woken up from the dream, laying down on a bed, and I turned to look at the room as much as I could without the back of my head throbbing but I could only wonder which room we’re in. But well, it’s okay to assume that because of how suddenly I collapsed in the hallway, I was taken to a room with a bed inside the monastery.
Bern, worried so that it wouldn’t happen again, once again held out a hand towards me.
And then with a steady rhythm, combed out my disheveled bangs. With his empty hand, he grasped my hand that I had on top of the bed.
Even if the reason for my sudden fainting wasn’t from staying up all night, I felt a little– or rather, really bad for making him worry this much.
“I saw the dream again.”
“The usual scary dream?”
I slowly shook my head.
“It’s the same but it wasn’t scary. Besides, I don’t think I’ll be seeing any scary dreams after this.”
When I said that last part, Bern let out a bitter smile like he was asking, Is that so?
“If that’s the case, then I’m glad.”
My bangs that Bern had carefully combed out slipped past my brows, and felt ticklish when it fell to my ears.
You’re the only one for him but for you, he’s not. Isn’t that kind of unfair?
Bernhardt’s screaming came to mind like it suddenly resurfaced from underwater.
Even if I do say so myself, I do know quite well that Bern treasures me a lot. I did say I was going to treasure him a lot as well but does Bern feel the same?
If he does, then that feels really sad.
It might be my fault for not having properly told Bern that I love him till now.
When I thought that, I naturally was surprised myself and the words just came out.
“I like you.”
What’s surprising is that nothing gushed forth, even the embarrassment that I’ve felt till then and I continued to talk to Bern, bewildered at my sudden confession that I gave, completely relaxed.
“I’ve liked you more than you probably think, and even more than I think myself. I love you… That’s why won’t you marry me?”
Bern held his breath with a bewildered expression and slowly blinking twice after that, let out a small sigh for some reason.
“Why’d you beat me to it?”
Having lost strength, Bern fell on the bed– or rather, on top of my stomach.
“I was even planning on properly proposing to you, looking for the right place and preparing the ring but… Why did you beat me to it?”
Actually, I did feel like he was planning on proposing to me… Was it because of that? Was he really worried since that conversation I had with Elmenhilde?
I’m happy but on the other hand, I felt like I did something wrong just now.
His complaints increased, muttering his regrets, while he rubbed and pushed his resting head on my stomach.
“You’re heavy though.”
“That’s because I actually am.”
When he talked with his head on top of my stomach, I immediately felt his voice directly reverberate.
“So? Will you marry me?”
He squirmed for just a bit, looking my way, and stared at me from behind his long bangs in observation. As if his gray eyes were naturally shining, they flickered and twinkled.
He seemed shy, his only ear that I could properly see slightly red.
It goes without saying my face was so red that Bern’s ears paled in comparison.
First of all, we returned to town for the time being.
The people at the monastery said that we’re free to stay but because Bern wouldn’t be able to, being a guy, and my physical condition wasn’t that bad, just the remaining pain from being hit, I refused their offer, thanking them for it.
I promised with Lila that we’ll talk properly tomorrow as well as she felt that we also hadn’t talked enough.
I gazed at the landscaped dyed by the setting sun as Bern carried me on his back.
I told him I was fine but I surrendered, stubbornly wanting to carry me, and in the end, I could only and quietly stay on his back like so.
The world I was viewing from Bern’s back was much higher than I always thought and felt fresh. Every time he walked, it felt like the pleasant swaying of being on a vehicle. Except for when I remembered to ignore to people who sometimes pass us by, looking.
As we grew farther from the monastery and closer to town, the amount of trees decreased, and because there were no fields around us, what was displayed were vast plains instead. Despite calling them vast plaints, there are short trees littered here and there as well as winter flowers. Besides, everything was dyed in the warm orange of the setting sun so it felt sentimental rather than desolate.
“By the way, did you get an answer?”
After a moment of silence, easily guessing that I must be making a face wondering what he was talking about, he said,
“About your previous life, and whether you’re a coward or not. You went to meet Viola and Lila because of that, right?”
Come to think of it, he’s right.
Or rather, this was the reason we went on this trip.
“Hmm, I wonder if I did. I didn’t really get a proper answer, but…”
I was troubled by that but I wouldn’t say that I’m that sad about it right now.
It’s largely because of Lila thanking me. Though it’s probably because of something so simple as me getting distracted, having gone to so many places and experienced so many things.
It’s not really a problem that I can simple end by saying, Either way, yes, it’s been settled!
On the other hand, right now, I think it’s okay for me to not worry about it anymore but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel something cold and heavy in my heart. Just that that cold and heavy thing felt like an unpleasant feeling that had always been insignificant than I originally thought.
We slowly went up the road. Bern’s steps slowly slowed down.
“Should I get off?”
“This much isn’t anything to me.”
Properly fixing his hold of me on his back, he climbed the hill that suddenly ascended with a steady gait.
“I still don’t quite understand much about your previous life but I don’t think you need to worry that much about it. If you’re a coward, then I’ll just become a monster for you. No matter what you say, I’m still a murderer.”
Bern seemed to be trying to calm me down by forcefully using extreme words.
“Will you blame me for that?”
Bern slightly nodded, satisfied, and continued on.
“I think the right thing is whether or not you feel guilty about it. Even if other people don’t think it’s right, if the person themselves don’t feel guilty, that would mean that the person thinks it’s the right decision for them. Besides, I think more than living for someone, one wouldn’t be able to live without feeling obligated, which is why I like that kindness of yours, even if it’s too much.”
Bern is saying that justice and righteousness don’t exist.
That opinion of his may seem unfeeling at a glance but because it’s said by Bern who’s survived in a harsh world, it has weight to it.
More than that, I knew that he was worried about me when he said, ‘I don’t think you need to worry that much about it,’ and I felt the unpleasant feeling in my heart turn even smaller.
“Is that so?”
“At the very least, that’s what I think.”
I murmured another, ‘I see’ and slightly strengthened my hold of my arms around his neck. Instead of thanking him. I’m sure that even if I didn’t tell him that, he would understand it perfectly.
Right foot, left foot, and right foot again.
For a moment, I was hit with drowsiness as I swayed on Bern’s back. On the other hand, I have a feeling it would be bad if I fall asleep, and so I counted the enumerated the times he stepped forward with his left and right feet– it happened as I retained my consciousness just like that.
Suddenly, he suddenly stopped walking and looked at something straight ahead.
When I followed his gaze, what was below the trifling cliff to the side of the road were white objects. He looked like he was earnestly looking at these.
“Give me a minute.”
Saying that, Bern lowered me from his back and when he quickly approached the cliff with a long gait, he went and smoothly disappeared below the cliff.
I peered into the bottom of the cliff as I blinked in surprise at this weird eccentricity of his. Its height was about 3 to 4 meters. I’m sure that this is a cliff but if pushed to say, it’s more correct to call it a sudden slope instead.
Just what business does he have down there? Bern leaned over a thicket at the bottom of the cliff, and rustled for something about.
But in no time at all, he grabbed something and firmly climbed up the slope.
I held out my hand to him as he neared the top of the slope, and helped him climb up to the road.
“Was something down there?”
Bern quickly brushed the dirt on his clothes without answering my question.
And then, instead of saying it looked difficult for him to do, he presented to me the thing he had in his hand, looking shy.
It was a cluster of white, long, narrow and cylindrical flowers.
It was heathers.
It was white heathers, the ones that Bernhardt had crushed in that dream I had.
I turned somewhat terrified, and asked him why.
After staring blankly for a moment, Bern made a face as if he screwed up and moved his gaze about.
“You probably don’t know, huh?”
“What don’t I know?”
After that, he said, having prepared himself despite faltering,
“White heathers are rare so, uhm… There’s a legend that says if you present it to the target of your affections, you’ll both be happy. Katerina told me about this a long time ago so I thought you would definitely know about it as well…”
Wow, so there’s such a romantic legend about white heathers, huh~ After optimistically thinking so, I noticed the main focus of that romantic legend, and suddenly felt heat gather to my face.
Following my face that had turned red, Bern continued explaining while his face turned red as well.
“You proposed to me earlier and thinking that it wasn’t the right time, I tried to look for a good timing so at the very least, I thought of this… I know that this kind of thing doesn’t suit me at all but I also, for you–“
For a moment, Bern looked perplexed and cut off his own words.
After, he slanted his eyebrows and gently smiled.
“I wanted to tell you that I love you.”
I’m going to marry this person! Thinking that, I wanted to carry Bern and brag about him to everyone, everywhere.
Well, even though I was the one being carried on his back just earlier. Or rather, even though it’s impossible of me to do so.
Sigh, I’m glad that the words I love you exist in this world. I’m thankful for the people who invented it. Not only that, but also to this world.
…I sounded kind of disgusting just now.
Anyways, my mood soared, wanting to scream Waaaah! or Kyaaaa! If you want, I’m fine with cartwheels as well. Even though I can’t do them.
Although his eccentricities weren’t exposed publicly, I covered my face, unable to bear with the embarrassment and happiness, and crouched down there, losing strength.
Probably because he never does this, because I’m thankful to Katerina or because the flowers he was holding were starting to look good in my eyes, my brain started becoming restless.
“Do you hate it?”
His voice sounded uneasy so I hastily stood up and denied. My momentum was too much so my body felt slight pain but if I had to say, I felt my temperature rise even though it was winter. Is summer already here? Where did spring go then? Spring is– I was happy about the flowers he was giving me as I thought of absurd things.
I took the cluster of heathers from Bern, who was relieved and had turned shy.
The heathers shook and trembled, and I could catch a whiff of a slightly sweet smell from it.
“…I’m really, really happy. Thank you.”
My feet feel like they’re floating on cloud nine, and I could feel a mystery feeling, like an itchy, pleasant feeling. But that doesn’t mean I hate it…
When a smile naturally spilled forth and I was grinning, I reached out towards Bern’s arm and hugged it tightly.
Wow, what’s with this?! What’s with this development?! Am I in an otome game!? Ah, wait, an otome game’s still a game but not really, right? Wow! WOW!
I cautiously wrapped my arms around his back so that I wouldn’t crush the flowers he painstakingly got for me.
Hmm, as always, he’s big. Although he looks feeble from appearances, I’m always surprised by the difference in our size everytime I hug him like this.
“We already became fiancees even though not a month had passed after we met, right? That’s why even though we didn’t think things through more carefully, there’s something called being lovers that comes before we become fiancees to society.”
Bern suddenly said this as he hugged me.
“Yeah? That’s true.”
And what’s your point?
Wait a minute, I feel hot. The hotness I was feeling broke through its limit because I was being hugged. Sooner or later, wouldn’t it turn into a fire?
A hand was suddenly placed on my shoulder, and our eyes met each other.
Hmm? What is it?
“And so, there’s something I’d like to do.”
“Then kindly ask for it.”
“What’s with that condescending tone…”
Oh, that was by accident.
No way am I teasing you in order to hide my own embarrassment. Yes, no way.
That’s right, I’m underestimating things so that I wouldn’t be embarrassed until I heard what Bern had to say next.
“Can I kiss you?”
What’s a kisu?
I pretended not to know for a moment.
As always, my useless brainimmediately supplied answers: Does he mean a kiss, or lip contact*?
Bern let out a bitter smile as I raised my voice into a scream. It was a smile that seemed to say he was expecting this reaction from me.
“Ah, huh, well, we’re already closed for today~”
Even though I don’t remember ever opening the shop anyways.
“Do you have business hours then?”
“If so, then let’s do it.”
“Why are you so assertive about that!?”
“That’s, well, I’m more or less still a guy.”
I unconsciously screamed.
“So mean… Even though I went through the trouble of asking for your permission.”
Bern made an obviously wounded expression, and dropped his shoulders.
“I-I’m sorry. It’s not like I hate it. Just that, it surprised me for a bit.”
But, okay, I see. So that’s how it is, huh? Bern’s also a guy, huh. For some reason, my heart started thumping really fast.
What is this, an otome game? Is this an otome game? Where are my choices? I’d like to call the developers over.
When I murmured an uh-huh, his expression suddenly changed like his earlier downheartedness was all a lie, as if that Bern hadn’t existed, and once again asked with more intensity.
“So, can I?”
I’ve been had. So what he did earlier was all an act. It was an act just so I would promise him by making me say, ‘I don’t hate it.’
I-I’ve been deceived!
…But it’s true that it’s not because I hate it. That’s right, I could never hate it. In fact, I’ve always wanted to do it. I’ve asked myself before, ‘Should I do it?’ I mean, I’m more or less also a girl…
But, well, because I’m a woman that has no charm,
Just saying that took all my might.
When Bern weirdly stuttered, I smiled, satisfied.
Ughh… why do you never do things normally?
I could see the far away visage of the town over Bern’s shoulders. With the sinking sun behind it, it looked like an illusion.
With the exception of the meager rustling of the blades of grass rubbing together, the area was very quiet.
I had already resigned myself to my fate, and firmly closed my eyes.
I mean, you’re supposed to have your eyes closed during a kiss, right?
When I closed my eyes, it felt like my heart was beside my ears and I could hear the wild beating of my heart. It felt like my blood was going the opposite direction, and felt it boil.
Suddenly, I could feel Bern sigh close to me, and my body willfully turned stiff on its own.
When I did so, I realized that his cool hands were touching my cheek. And as a last confirmation, he drew on the area below my eyes with his thumb multiple times.
My stiff body loosened when he did that, and I naturally raised my head that had been looking down.
Slowly feeling him approach, it wasn’t my lips that he collided with, but my nose.
I thought it was just me that was nervous but I realized that this was also Bern’s first time.
Thinking that, a laugh spilled out from me.
He let out a disgruntled voice, and once again, I felt him approaching.
Even though it was only our lips that touched, it felt even more wonderful than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life.
No matter how you look at us, right not, we must look like a very normal and commonplace couple.
A hard-to-get normality that someone hates, and someone yearns for.
Besides, I’m happy so isn’t this the best?
When I said that, Bern made that slightly troubled expression that I loved, and joked around, saying, ‘Then do you wanna do it again?’
Letting that suggestion end as a joke would feel like such a waste so I answered, ‘Sure thing!’
*So for these, it uses two different words. Googled and apparently one of these is used mostly in novels (not conversationally) and the other is used in formal papers, though you don’t really need to know that to understand but that’s a little tidbit for you guys