Chapter 10 The Third Life and Thereafter – 2
Portentous of ill omen? No, it doesn’t make any sense. Because it’s too late, the calamity and misfortune are already happening.
Looking at me who said such a thing, Crow opened his eyes wide and slowly smiled… at any case, that’s what it looked like. Crow’s beak which should not have been able to make any expression, certainly looked like it was slowly laughing; the black bird that was here was probably an illusion.
“…What you’re holding in your arms is your child?”
Why did Crow asked me about my child despite him being something that should not be visible? When I tilted my head wondering why Crow knew about the thing I was holding in my arms, it answered.
“Of course I know about it. Because I’ve always been watching.”
As expected, it was showing a smile on his face.
“I’ve seen you cuddling that child.”
“… Is that so?”
“I bet it’s surely adorable.”
“… yes, that’s right. Very… lovely.”
Even though it introduced himself with such ominous words, what a gentle conversation it made. When I moved my line of sight from the phantom which had said it was called Crow, my white arms that were forming the shape of circle in front of my chest stood out against the darkness of the room. Even though I certainly felt a heavy weight in those arms, I knew it was an illusion, because I couldn’t see the face of the infant I should have been holding. Inside the dim room, the outline of everything was very vague, I didn’t know with certainty what was here or what wasn’t. That’s why I couldn’t see the face of the child in my arms. I tried to believe this firmly.
I knew he’s adorable. It cannot be helped he’s cute. Because he’s my child. Him and mine child. But, the child inside my arms didn’t have a face. I couldn’t even imagine the face of the child I wasn’t granted the chance to see.
“You, what on earth did you come here for? There is nothing here.”
When I questioned it while holding in my arms a phantom that was much more gloomy and sorrowful than the despairing darkness of the room, Crow laughed in a suggestive way while flying around. It said it was a bird but what a ridiculous way of laughing.
“Didn’t you consider I came here precisely because there was nothing?”
It lightly jumped on the top of the dresser, turned its neck around once then tilted it in a charming way.
“What can you possibly be trying to mean?”
“Anyway, I guess I’m bored!”
Crow opened his large wings wide and turned on himself once. Or so I thought but the next moment,
Above the dresser, there was a black cat. Its body trembled with a sudden shaking as if it was brushing off something, then after it stared back at me to observe my reaction, it exclaimed,
“… Oh? It wasn’t to your liking?”
While rubbing its whiskers against its front paw, it tilted its head and said that women usually applaud when seeing this.
“… I think it’s cute though.”
I don’t like it that much. When I said that, “That’s so? Such a shame, it’s really a pity,” it answered and smiled as if it didn’t care about it at all. When I was staring absentmindedly at its figure, the black cat suddenly jumped off the dresser. As soon as it landed on the floor, it turned back to its previous black bird shape.
“And so? Princess, why the hell are you imprisoned in such a place?”
“… I am not a princess.”
“Oh, well. Even if I call you a princess it’s not an exaggeration cause you’re charming.”
“… I am not charming.”
“Eh, it’s that so? Hmm, what a problem, I’m troubled, I’m troubled.”
Crow jumped a few times on the floor while making “Un, un” sounds and bending its head sideway. It had wings but didn’t use them to fly, what a waste.
“Well, it doesn’t matter. So, is it fine to ask why you’re in such a place?”
Crow, which eventually jumped up higher and higher with its feet, landed on the bed I was sitting on.
“Such a place you said, but that’s my bedroom.”
“Yup, I know that.”
Even though it shouldn’t have any expression, I wondered why I felt its face was curved in a cheerful one.
“The thing I want to know is, why are a noble princess like you in such a room?”
“That, what do you mean such a room…? It’s not such an awful place as what you make it sounds like.”
“…eh? Are you serious when you say that?”
Tilting its head, Crow looked helplessly over the room.
“Take a better look, princess. At that window.”
Since it told me to, I moved my eyes toward the window covered by curtain its yellow eyes were turned to. But, there was only the pale blue curtain and it wasn’t different from usual. When I bent my head with a confused expression, besides me the sound of flapping wings resounded.
“There, look now.”
Crow, which finally reached the window after swimming through the air, used its beak to pinch the curtain and skillfully pulled it. The window frame that appeared in the gap was vividly depicting a dark night.
“This… isn’t it a grill of iron bars?”
When I concentrate my attention with inquiring eyes, I knew the shapes of iron bars were reflected in the glass. It must surely be this. Without doubts, on the outside of the window, an iron grid had been affixed.
“Why are you imprisoned in a room that looks like a prison?”
Crow once again turned its little head in my direction.
“… You, you said you’re Crow right?”
“Eh? Ah, yup.”
“You, didn’t you enter from that window? I wonder how you got inside?”
“… . Eh?! The thing you’re caring about now is that?”
But, I already knew there was an iron grid affixed there. When I said that, a frown appeared between the eyebrows Crow shouldn’t have had.
“It’s true you already said it earlier but, you’re certainly broken somewhere.”
When it sighed in a quite human way, Crow let out a laughing sound from the depth of its throat.
“…I’m pleased with you, really pleased. Right, that’s good. You’re very good.”
That’s why, shall I lend you my cooperation?
The young boy voice completely changed and became one of an adult man. It was low and enticing, it was a pressuring voice that would entangle you if you were to be careless.
“Cooperating you say, what for?”
“Anything related to you?”
“If you say you want to kill people, or anything like that, it’s fine. For me, it’s very easy.”
It was some silly talk. Just some nonsense. Even if I knew that, I felt like I was about to spontaneously nod and say “yes.” As I reflexively sank into silence,
“What, and then I was sure you weren’t a pure and innocent princess?” it said this in a pleased tone rather than a disappointed one.
“… As I thought, you’re joking right?”
“Ah, who knows? If you really desired so, I’m ready to lend a hand!”
Then, when I was considering how to reply, without any warning signs, in a popping sound the black bird literally burst out with laugher. As I covered my eyes to protect them from the black feathers that were scattering in all directions,
“…Ahahahahah” someone sneered in a boisterous way.
When I slightly opened my eyes, at the other side of the feathers fluttering inside the room, I saw the figure of a person. When I properly opened my eyes while sweeping away the feathers that were obstructing my field of vision, before I was aware of it, a man was standing right beside me. He was neither tall nor small, if I must describe him, he had a lean figure. However, he didn’t look weak. Maybe it was the robe he was coiled in that was hiding his figure well. With the feeling I was looking at a magic trick, I just absentmindedly gazed at the man’s body. Seeing me like this, inside the swallow depths of the hood he was wearing, the man tilted his small neck and suddenly shrugged both shoulders to make fun of me.
“You aren’t showing any astonishment you know?” he said with a small laugh.
“Let me introduce myself once again, princess. I’m Crow. … I don’t have a family name.”
Call me as you see fit. His white smiling face that said that, was elegant and beautiful. This figure was swaying inside the glistening moonlight which flooded in from the gap of the curtain that had been thrown open. When I instinctively scrutinized his radiant eyes, he deepened his smile all the more.
“So, what is the calamity that’s happening to you?”
The slender fingertips he stretched out touched my cheek. His hand didn’t have any temperature. As if it belonged to a corpse. When he saw me unconsciously shiver with a jump, he made a smile full of satisfaction.
“Is it the child who is inside your arms?”
“Or is it that window affixed with irons bars?”
“Can it be that… it’s an incident even I cannot predict…?”
His hairs which were of a deeper black color than Soleil’s were smoothly swaying on his shoulder; his eyes of an even more profound dark color were staring intently at me. Gazing at those eyes that were reflecting me, I saw the idiotic expression I was making.
“… The color of your eyes his different than from the time you were a bird.”
When I unconsciously muttered that, the man laughed and raised a joyful and delighted voice.
“… Say, princess. Shall I help you?”
Having shortened the distance between us, the man, no, Crow, whispered this at a breath distance from my ears. Blended in his slow tone of voice was a wicked echo enticing to do evil deeds.
“… You, what is your intention?”
“We’ve reached this late in the game and that’s what you’re enquiring about? Even though I said it earlier.”
The exhalation he spit out when he laughed felt nice and cold. When I reflexively drew back, for an instant, Crow seemed to deepen his smile even more and said bluntly:
“You see, I’m very, very bored…!”
“I’ve grew sick of this boring life!”
“That’s why, helping you is fine. I’ll give you a special service free of charge?”
“What do you say, Ilya?”
… … That was my encounter with him.
Strictly speaking, because he had been visiting my room since long before, I wonder if it’s better to say that we became acquaintance that day. It was the first time he appeared in his original form.
He was a being I didn’t encounter in my two previous lives.
It’s not sure whether he was a dream or an illusion. In the first place, no matter how naturally we exchanged words on this occasion, chatting whit animals was not a normal situation. That’s why I think the me of my third life doubted of his existence until the very end.
However, since I keep repeating my life many times, I will come to know.
… … He was indeed real. He was certainly here, watching me.
“My lady, that, is it really alright?”
While I was looking at an history book in the archives of the mansion, a nervous voice was raised behind me. When I turned back my head my escort was standing there with a crease between his eyebrows. Reflecting the sunlight that was flowing in from the window, his blond hair looked a little like they were containing some of that light. When I narrowed my eyes because of the dazzle, he nonchalantly changed his position. He was truly an attentive man.
I closed the book and faced my escort.
“When you ask if it’s really alright, what are you talking about?” I asked while inclining my head.
“Today too, to visit Silvia-sama, Soleil-sama has…”
“He has arrived at the estate” were the words he hesitated but couldn’t bring himself to say before he lowered his eyes.
“I know. I caught sight of him a little earlier.”
That’s right. Before coming to the archives, I certainly saw Soleil walking back and forth with hesitation in front of Silvia’s room. He, who would never show a wavering behavior in front of me, was indecisively roaming in circle hesitating over whether or not entering the room of Silvia. Silvia’s maid who had probably guided him here was silently making a very peculiar face.
He didn’t go greet his fiancé and went to visit her little sister. While I was amazed by his lack of consideration, even then, I felt a bit envious of my little sister who could see him. This train of thoughts of mine was really not normal. It seemed something was burn off. Despite me being so envious, when he was just in front of me eyes, I couldn’t call out to him.
“… That’s exactly why I asked if things were alright this way.”
His voice was calm, but it was mixed with irritation. I think it’s quite rare for my escort to express any frustration.
“It’s not alright you know. Not the slightest bit alright.”
“If so then why are you here looking for something like a book without saying anything…!”
“Something like a book you say, but books aren’t outrageous things.”
When I made a wry smile, at once he lowered his head without any honesty, saying “forgive me for my impoliteness” while making an expression that seemed to say he wasn’t sorry at all. And then, keeping his head lowered, he inquired with a voice whose impatience had grown stronger.
“My lady, is it truly fine to leave things this way?”
“…Of course, it’s not.”
My escort who snapped and rose his head was now making a distorted expression like he was about to cry. It’s really strange. Even though the most concerned person should have been me, my tears have already dried up.
“Have you seen the window in my room?”
“The person who affixed that iron grids, it was father.”
“Ahah, of course you know that.”
Since the huge blunder that can be called an act of madness which I committed that day, although I thoroughly acted like usual, I couldn’t deceive my parents. Quite the opposite, my parents completely didn’t believe me when I said I had regain my sanity.
… … In fact, their fears were right. After all, even I couldn’t believe in myself.
And so, when my father put that grid in place just in case I would jump down from the window, I felt relieved. Looking at those iron bars while standing beside Al who was making a bitter expression, I breathed out a sight of relief. Even if they reminded me of that jail I had been imprisoned into, I still thought it was better they were here.
“However, my lady, you’re not the kind of person who would choose to end her own life.”
“Oh, that’s… I wonder. I’m not sure myself.”
“Whatever my lady thinks, that’s how you are.”
Because he declared this unduly full of confidence, I unintentionally erupted in laughter.
“Ahah, no, it’s fine. I’m sorry. Al, you’re a good person.”
I was scowled by Al who was making a dejected expression, yet I knew the gaze of this man would never show displeasure.
“… It’s not like father was worried I would commit suicide you know.”
“… In others words…?”
“He did it so that I wouldn’t jump from the window, so that I wouldn’t flee by any chance.”
“…That, what do you mean…?”
“Exactly what I just said.”
Al had a puzzled expression and sank into silence, deep in thoughts.
“Hey, Al. If someone is born in a noble house, moreover if the newborn is a girl, it’s commonplace for her to get married for the sake of politics. It’s the norm for any house.”
“Everybody marries while thinking that. It’s not just me, it’s the same for the others houses. I’m not the only one thinking like this. So, you’ve to come to some terms with yourself.”
“… Something you must force yourself to come to terms with, is there one…?”
Suddenly, like he had made up his mind, Al put one of his knees on the ground and looked up at me who was sitting on a chair.
“If you are confronted to painful things, you don’t have to endure them. I know how much time and efforts my lady expended to prepare for you marriage with Soleil-sama. You certainly have at least the right to express the things you want to say.”
He had a gentle pair of eyes. Those sincere words stabbed my chest. But I understood how utterly pointless it would be to speak my mind. No matter what I say, no matter what I do, Soleil’s heart is already set on my little sister. I knew that.
“… … My lady, haven’t you been doing it earnestly until now? You strictly restrained the women who approached Soleil-sama by confronting them and explaining things clearly.”
I don’t think it was the right method. But, no matter how you looked at it, the current situation is not like usual. He said that while creasing his eyebrows in bewilderment.
“Why on earth don’t you do that now?”
That’s right. Until that tea party, that’s what I had been doing. Regardless of whether they had a higher or lower social status, I hide behind the fact he was my fiancé to keep in check every woman without concerning myself with their identities.
… … That’s why I failed.
“… I can’t act the way I have until now. Because the one who is approaching the other is Soleil-sama.”
“… That’s, indeed, it’s true…”
In this life, Soleil is unashamedly visiting my little sister without being afraid of what other people say. Since she was the frail sister of his fiancé, the people in his entourage pretended to agree to the official stance it wasn’t strange for him to meet her and enquire about her health. The two previous times where they hid from the surroundings’ gazes and secretly exchanged their feelings seemed to be lies. The two of them who felt guilty feelings at the simple act of exchanging gazes were nowhere to be seen.
Including our parents who permit the two of them to repeatedly meet, it felt like there is no one I know here.
Isn’t it like a distortion has been formed?
My second life had seemed to retrace the path of my first life. In this current life, both Soleil and Silvia almost seem to act like two completely different persons.
… … No, they are two different persons, aren’t they? I wonder if this place is a totally different world.
… If that’s the case.
If that’s the case, then, why I’m still like this?
I thought of all this while receiving the gaze of Al who was in front of me; his limpid gaze hadn’t changed from my previous lives. I wonder if this person is truly the escort I knew. Even that, I wasn’t sure of it anymore.
My life until that tea party, almost had no discrepancies with the first life that is so to speak only related to me. That is why I’m still here like this, having fallen in love with Soleil. At the moment we met, I fell in love with him, to the extent that my feelings were strengthen by each word and gaze we exchanged, despite them being so few.
I thought about it many times. If, only if, I had my memories from the start. I wonder if I wouldn’t have fallen in love with Soleil?
Even if I were to fall in love, in order to let go of that feeling, to not foster that emotion, couldn’t I have lived while maintaining a moderate distance from Soleil and Silvia?
And then, eventually.
I might have come to love someone who wasn’t Soleil. Even if that love had brought me painful moments sometimes, in the end I would have built a family and formed a married couple like how other imagine spouses should be. Such a thought passed through my mind.
However, again and again, I fall in love without learning my lesson. That’s how it is. Because as long as I remain myself, I can’t stop myself from falling in love with Soleil. The original me who met him, was unaware of the destiny that was awaiting me. Then, until that tea party where I introduce the two to each other, I believe my love will be rewarded.
… … If my memories were to return, could I abandon my feelings? No, such a thing is certainly impossible.
Because I’m a human who remember everything. Because I’m a person who cannot forget the me who loved him. As my lives pills up, my feelings grow stronger. Emotions I cannot forget are accumulating inside this body.
The feelings of my previous self, and of the one before too, of the one now, even if they have already become the past, I cannot forget them.
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