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Hearing Fenrir’s voice so close to me, I opened my eyes and I was surprised to see myself standing instead of lying down sleeping like what I last remembered.
When I looked at my surrounding, I was in a familiar environment. Everything around me was all white. Even the ground I was standing on—it was white. Fenrir was sitting right in front of me.
Yes, we were inside my dream.
I had tried out Fenrir’s power before, but it was just to explore what we could do in my dream, and the only experiment of entering someone else’s dream that we got to do was…with Freyr and Freyja. We had lots of fun in their dream world, ehehe! (≧◡≦)
“Get ready,” Fenrir said.
I nodded and I closed my eyes to focus. Time to put my Hartmann arts to use. This would be the first time it’d be used for a serious matter, after the trip to Chinosato.
This time, I tried using my transformation skill than just illusion.
The reason being… Fenrir told me that if it was just putting an illusion in a dream, he could do it. But based on his knowledge, there were some really perceptive people who could control their dream and eliminate the illusion made. Therefore, it would be safer to just use transformation.
It didn’t take long before my body transformed into my former self’s. Reinst Carnatia Grabberton. Thirteen years old.
Feeling the transformation was complete, I slowly opened my eyes and stared right into Fenrir’s eyes. The figure reflected in his gentle red eyes was none other than the figure of someone who should have long gone.
Yes. I succeeded in transforming to become my past self flawlessly.
“…Let’s go,” Fenrir said as he stood and turned around, walking in the white scene. I simply followed him obediently.
His walking speed slowly became faster, so I had to run as well.
Then, his whole body shone as a crack formed in the road ahead him. The crack grew bigger as Fenrir’s body shone brighter. Eventually, Fenrir jumped to the crack and it grew bigger. I ran and jumped into the crack, following him.
A blinding light caused my eyes to close reflexively. And then…
“What are you doing over here?”
A small girl’s voice could be heard.
I was very surprised as I thought we were found out right away, so I opened my eyes and what I saw made me speechless.
In front of me, separated by some whiteness, there were the young Reinst and Nicole. The location was at a very secluded place of a library. My old house’s library.
Reinst was sitting at the corner of the desk, close to the wall, writing on something. Nicole stood next to her and asked that question. When Reinst heard Nicole’s words, she quickly closed the book and covered it with her body.
“You’re Clyde’s sister, right? I’m Nicole. I came over to study with Clyde. If you’re studying too, why don’t we do it together?”
Hearing Nicole’s explanation, Reinst relaxed and moved away from the book.
Right at that moment…
“ Hey, what’s inside that book, why are you hiding it? Let me see!”
Nicole said as she forcefully took the book from Reinst, opened it, and saw its content.
“H-heyyy!!” Reinst raised her voice, but she tried to be discreet as well. She stood up and tried to take the book away from Nicole, but Nicole managed to see the content.
Inside the notebook was a childish drawing and writing. A simple story with picture that Reinst poured her imagination to.
“Heee, it’s just a story and drawing. I thought you’re writing your secret or something. Not interesting, why would you be hiding it, anyway?” Nicole closed the book and returned it to Reinst who safeguarded it immediately.
“…Because they will scold me if they know I’m doing something useless instead of studying and training,” Reinst said.
Nicole just stared at Reinst who didn’t even look at her.
Yes, there was actually a time when I wanted to do other things even during the time I was supposed to study. I’d try to do them secretly until I was found and scolded, then I’d just stop doing them anymore.
I had long forgotten.
“…At first, I befriended Clyde because he managed to defeat me in a creative arts competition our school was holding. I wanted to learn from him. Then, I got to know Reinst and their family’s situation. The reason I wanted to ‘befriend’ them… was far from a pure reason.”
I suddenly heard Nicole’s adult voice echoing.
“It seems that the owner of this dream is reminiscing. I thought I’d need to induce her reminiscence with my power, but it isn’t necessary anymore,” Fenrir said.
“No, that’s just a coincidence. More importantly… Is it alright for us to snoop like this?” I asked, unsure.
“I believe these are words she wanted to tell you, I mean, to Reinst,” Fenrir said confidently.
“How are you so sure?”
“I have been to many people’s dreams, I’ve got gut feelings.”
The voice continued as the scene before me rapidly changed. It was all the eight-year-old Reinst, Nicole, and Clyde. How Nicole initially just looked disinterestedly at Reinst who was almost always absorbed in her own mind.
…I thought she was somehow interested in me, and so she befriended me. But looking at this memory from a third person view convinced me that wasn’t the case. Then, why?
The scene then changed. It was Domi’s birth and Nicole also went to our house to congratulate us. I guess the young me couldn’t hide my sadness and despair after finding out that I was never needed by Mother. Nicole only looked at that Reinst with unreadable expression.
“I am such a bad person. Back then, the elders in my family criticized how I wasn’t really fit to become the head of the family if I couldn’t learn to mask my dislike and be less blunt. Some of my competitive cousins tried to compete with me for the position of the next family head. …I thought my life quite sucked due to it. But… but when I saw the Grabberton siblings, I was relieved because I knew there were more pitiful people than me, even if we hailed from ducal families. For me, at least both my mother and father loved me dearly…”
I was surprised to hear Nicole’s words. I see. I see. So that’s why she wanted to befriend me in the beginning. For Clyde, at least she was also interested in him because how he managed to defeat her in a contest—typical of her, and that reminded me of Ein.
Before I could process this new information, the scene before me changed again.
“Huh? That book… Are you reading [Journey to Paradise]?” Nicole asked to Reinst who was busy reading a book.
Reinst dismissively replied, “Yes.”
“Aah, that series is good. I really love this part: [You know, when we were little, we had our parents and a place to return to. Even if we have no money, even if there’s no magic. Even though those days are ordinary, there was actually something really precious there, don’t you think? Yes, there is an unconditional love. How I miss those days.],” Nicole casually said.
As if a switch was turned on, Reinst turned to look at Nicole and she excitedly said, “Yes, that part! That’s when they realized they had the paradise all along, but then they lost it because they were so obsessed in wanting to find ‘the paradise’! Wait, how can you remember the whole thing perfectly?!”
Then, I could see Nicole’s taken aback expression and I understood why she would be taken aback. Even I already forgot this moment existed and was surprised as well.
I see, so even I had a time when I could make such expression. I thought I was always stoic as Reinst…
“At that time, I finally saw your real colour for the first time, Reinst. I felt like I saw the real ‘you’ that’s buried by others’ expectations of you. I think it’s since that time that I strongly wish to be a friend who can be close to you. I thought one day, I can be someone who you can confide things with, and by being around me, you can show your true colours without any hesitation.
The scene quickly changed again, showing how we grew up and even I could see how Reinst grew more stoic and seemingly bored with life in general.
“I never succeeded.”
Her words sounded so sad…
Then, the scene changed and I saw Dahlia, Reinst’s mother. It seemed like she was talking to other adults, while Nicole who happened to pass by… accidentally heard them talking.
“You are so lucky, Dahlia-sama, to be blessed with an excellent daughter and a son who’s going to be the next family head!”
“Yes, your daughter is very obedient! You must really like her!”
“Oh my, I wonder about that…,” Dahlia opened her mouth, “It’s true that Reinst is very obedient, but how do I say it… Compared to Domi, she’s quite boring.”
I widened my eyes when I heard that and I expected a lot of heartache. But oddly, I didn’t feel any heart-wrenching pain. If it were the old me, those words would be enough to cause my mental breakdown.
Then, I saw Nicole’s expression changing to that of an anger’s, but she quickly left the premise instead of doing anything.
Again, the scenery changed rapidly. I saw the news that seemed to announce my unfortunate accident. Then Clyde’s remorseful figure as he cried. Nicole hugging Clyde as they cried together. And then… this scenery… My funeral.
“My precious daughter… how could fate be so cruel? How can you be killed by a stray meteorite? God… Aion-sama… why…,” Dahlia said as she wept and used her handkerchief to wipe her eyes.
“Even seeing her ‘sadness’, I still felt that Clyde’s grieving more than her and that pissed me off. It seems to me that she’s sad because she’s losing an ‘asset’ that can ‘worth a lot more’ in the future. And her show of sadness is nothing more than a show.”
And then, something unbelievable happened.
Nicole suddenly shouted, “You’re the one who killed her!!”
[You are the one who killed the real Reinst.
You are the one who turned her like this.
You are the one… who killed her personality, her real self.
Reinst died for you, yet you… you never turned to look at her.]
“Nicole, what are you doing?!” Nicole’s parents were very surprised to see their daughter’s unexpected action.
But Nicole ignored them and continued to speak, “You’re her mother, but do you even truly care about her?”
“NICOLE!” Nicole’s father then slapped her.
Next, her mother stood up and made Nicole bow down to apologize for her inappropriate words.
“It was the first time my father slapped me, but I didn’t regret it at all. I believe I’d regret it more if I were to hold everything inside me.”
Nicole’s feelings definitely reached me now.
Even if they didn’t reach me in the past, but it did.
She was genuinely looking after me, huh?
I almost teared up looking at Nicole who was at my funeral and also listening to the meaning behind her words.
The scene slowly disappeared and what was left after it was all gone…
There was the current Nicole, standing still in this pure whiteness of her dream, closing her eyes as tears fell from them.
“Even so, it’s all too late. I always regretted it. If only I did something earlier… If only I interfered earlier… If only… can I save you? …You were gone before I could even tell everything to you. You were gone before I could ask if you really thought of me as your friend or not. You were gone before I could do anything for you…”
I never knew that my death impacted her this strongly, even years after I was gone…
“Go. It’s time for you to confront her,” Fenrir said from behind me.
I see… So her ‘dream’ is over and now I can speak to her…
Now, it’s time to resolve a chain from my past.
And it’s time to set my best friend free.