Chapter 06 – Affection
On the other end of the light was a crimson sunset.
Around me were blue flowers, and a strong wind.
The spinning propeller of a tower… the windmill was there.
“Sherry… I’ll be there in a jiffy.”
I ran full force down the windmill’s hill to the town.
I lamented my lack of stamina.
My lungs were letting out wheezing sounds as they demanded for air, and I wanted to stop at once for a breather.
But still, I ran.
My foot caught onto the weeds growing from the pavement, and I ended up tripping.
And since there was nothing to fall on but rock, my knees hurt.
That doesn’t matter.
There was someone in more pain and sorrow right now.
I sucked it up, stood, and ran off towards the magicians’ brigade tower of the castle.
Luckily, I had just been taught the way through the maze-like streets earlier today, so I remembered them.
The buildings of piled stone caught the red setting sun.
In a world without life, there was only one moving shadow.
Only now, reality I wanted to avert my eyes from, was pushing me ahead.
In this world, I’m the only one that can lend a hand to her.
I passed under the castle gate.
The sunshine was coming to an end, and the world’s color was transitioning from crimson to violet.
Of the three buildings, I turned my feet to one, and ran on with determination.
My running kicked up dust in the facility.
Perhaps because there was no one else, her voice could be heard quite clearly.
If the magic’s influence had turned something amiss, I don’t know what it was I’d do.
When I entered the door, Sherry powerlessly slumped onto the floor, and turned to me.
From her golden eyes dropped large tears.
I purposely chose not to think of her feelings at the moment.
Of the one to live in this world alone… just how painful must it be?
“Even when you helped me so much… I’m sorry… I ended up coming back.”
“Did it fail?”
“No. I returned on my own.”
“Because I noticed. Even if you can live alone, Sherry, I can’t let you live alone.”
The yellow germanium had told me.
Surely our encounter could have been by chance.
But there still must be a meaning behind such an encounter.
I don’t want her to feel sad. I don’t want her to cry.
I want her to smile forever. I want her in good health forever.
Not the shadow-ridden forced smile she wore, a real smile.
“That’s none of your business! Don’t get so stuck up! Go home already!”
“I won’t go back. You were just crying, weren’t you?”
“I wasn’t crying!”
After wiping her tears with both hands, she shot back strongly.
Her eyelids were reddened, and I could see how much she’d been crying up to now.
“Return already and find your happiness!”
“I won’t. I can’t leave you alone in a world without anyone, Sherry.”
“You don’t even know how I feel, so don’t speak as if you get it all!”
“Of course there’s no way how I’d know how you feel!”
I don’t understand the feelings of others.
In the first place, I can’t even discern my own.
But just one, there’s one think I can say, that I know isn’t a mistake.
“I don’t know how you feel… but still I can worry for you. I can sympathize for you.”
The people who had supported me up to now.
It’s not as if they did it because they comprehended or knew all of how I had felt.
But they worried for me, and sympathized in their own ways.
If they’ve lived long enough, it’s a natural feeling anyone could go through.
The ridiculously natural feeling of wanting to comfort your precious people when they’re crying.
Based on the time, such an act may end up hurting them.
But still, I don’t think that it’s something wrong.
On that day… what mother, father, and Yuuji did for me was definitely right.
“And that’s why I won’t return! No matter how much you reject or ignore me, I’ll worry for you. I’ll want you to be in good spirits. I’ll do whatever I can to make you smile.”
Because after all that’s been done for me, it’s my turn to reach out a hand to her.
And that’s what I’ll do.
Now the one who truly needs my hand, is Sherry.
Because she’s a precious person I want to feel happy from the bottom of my heart…
“I will stay here. So that you won’t be left alone.”
“Idiot! Idiot! Idiot… idiot…”
She buried her face into my chest, and hit both her hands against me.
But even that gradually began to weaken, and eventually, she fell to the ground to hide herself.
There’s no way solitude wouldn’t be painful.
It’s bitter and sorrowful, and scary.
The people who should be there are gone.
And even if nothing came of it, that alone was painful.
The agony of losing my real mother and father.
And compared to me, how many times, hundreds of time that number of precious somethings did she lose all at once?
I can’t even begin to fathom it.
But if it’s just a little, then I can think of it. I can sympathize.
I don’t want Sherry to be sad. I want her to smile.
I resolved that, as I held her sobbing body, as if to take her in.
From then on, was it ten minutes, thirty, an hour?
The flow of time seemed to slow, and I had no idea what time it was, but we stayed quite a while in that position.
I gave a soft reply.
Perhaps because she had spent a while longer crying, her tear glands had swelled even more than before.
Her good looks were being wasted, but the demons that had haunted her expression all this time had finally disappeared.
Just seeing that face from her made me happy.
“You can take it slow, just say what you want. What we have is a lot of time.”
Kagiya Mizuki and Celeilia Flamell.
There were only those two in the world, after all.
“Mizuki, will you really stay with me?”
“Yes. That’s what I’ve decided. It’s what something told me in the light.”
The yellow flower petal.
The flower that had told me my true feelings.
“But… Mizuki,, you have your precious people…”
Yes, I have irreplaceably important people.
And I’m sure they’d all be angry with me if they learned I returned all smiles after leaving her behind.
It wasn’t like I was returning for their sakes. I wanted to go back, because I was no good without them.
I had noticed that embarrassing, and miserable truth.
And precisely because of how important they are to me, I can’t leave Sherry behind.
“I won’t give up on any of them. But Sherry, I won’t give up on you, either.”
I don’t know.
I don’t know a single thing about this world.
I don’t know about Sherry.
This world reflected in my eyes is a scarce, and narrow, and small one.
I don’t know a thing about anything.
“So let’s go look for some.”
“Yep, look for life. The world’s this vast, so I can’t think you’re the first and last to be found. There must be life out there. Somewhere in this world. So let’s go out to find it.”
“That’s right. Journey the world to find it.”
The fact that she and I met may have been the work of astronomical odds or miracles.
Perhaps there really is no life left in the world.
But we haven’t even begun to look for it.
And I can’t give up before even trying.
“I won’t be able to endure it alone… so I’d like you to come along with me.”
I extended out my hand.
I was too stubborn back then, that I didn’t even noticed the hands reaching out for me.
Even if she refuses, I’ll just think up the next option to try.
Just as everyone did for me, I’ll do to her. I won’t break as many times as it takes.
“Are you really fine with someone like me?”
“Don’t say someone like me. To me, you’re just about as important as the people I left behind in my original world. If you’re not with me, Sherry, I don’t even feel like travelling.”
She put both hands to her mouth, whispered something… and nodded once.
“Mizuki, I like you. More than anything in the world… no, all other worlds included, I like you more than anything.”
And in one I had never seen before, a smile as radiant as the sun, she spoke.
That confession entered my ears, and my body started burning as it had right after I had run here with all my might.
I’m sure I had cooled down quite a bit while we were talking.
“Oh, are you blushing? Does that make it mutual?”
“W-what are you talking about?”
“I mean, it’s the first time I’ve ever felt this way! Mizuki, you are my fated one, my prince on a white horse, the legendary hero who traversed worlds to come and save me.”
“I’m just a normal student…”
So those sorts of stories exist in this world as well.
Saying I’m the one who came to save the protagonist would make me tilt my head.
But I kinda understood the feeling.
To me, my best friend Tsukishiro Yuuji was a hero.
Mother and father were the same, now and before, I liked them most in the world.
Because there’s three of them up there, I can’t say most in the world, I guess, but if you want to put it to words, that’s all that comes out.
“Mizuki, just being with you blows my worries away, and puts a beat in my heart. It lets me believe there are still loads of living things left in this world to be found. It lets me hold hope in tomorrow.”
… Well that’s good.
I never thought she’d cheer up this much.
On that day, the day I first met her.
I understand why I wanted to see her laugh like this.
Sherry had finally smiled.
That alone made it worth the return trip.
“Ah, why are there few words there to express my affection? If only I could give my heart to you as is, so that you’d be able to understand it all!”
“It’s alright. The message got across.”
“No, it hasn’t! There seems to be quite a different in enthusiasm between me and you.”
I get the feeling she was a little too lively, but she was happy, so all’s well with the world.
“Hey, Mizuki. I’ve decided.”
With a slightly reddened face, Sherry went on.
Her eyes I had always though pretty were letting off golden sparkles as if they had become something else entirely.
Her characteristic transparent hair let off the light of dusk… it was swallowed in a bluish violet color as it flickered.
“First, I’m going to find all the life left in this world.”
“Second, I’ll let all the remaining people feel like I’m feeling now.”
“That sounds nice.”
“Third, Mizuki, I’m making you fall hard for me.”
“Eh… t-that is…”
Sherry closed her eyes, and spoke in delightful bashfulness.
And she spun out her words.
“… I’d like to see your world with you.”