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“I finally could greet you!”
After losing against the other nobles who quickly engaged in a talk with the star of the party, I finally managed to greet her. It took me so long, I guess I was in the last batch. The first dance part of the party was just over, after all.
The star of the party was the daughter of Duke Hartmann, who governed over my family, which was merely a marquis family. I ought to greet her!
Moreover, my siblings were holding a challenge among us, the one who couldn’t greet the star of the party, would receive a dare. If all could, then it was a tie.
“You’re…,” The galaxy blue haired girl seemed a bit surprised when she saw me, but she quickly recognized me. I knew from her eyes.
“I’m Elise Elandia, Lyra-san. You might have forgotten about it, but when you entered Harmonia Academy first, you got lost and I—”
“Ah, I remember, I remember, don’t mention that shameful past!! Please stop mentioning it to me whenever we meet, I remember you perfectlyyyyy!”
I chuckled looking at her flustered expression. She was so cute, just like before when we first met!
“What’s so shameful about it? You were like six at that time, so it’s normal for you to get lost in an unfamiliar place.”
“Y-yeah, I guess…,” she bashfully answered.
Yup, even if that happened a long time ago, I still remembered her. On top of being cute, her eyes and hair color… Her peculiarity was enough for me to remember her.
“Congratulations on your coming-of-age ceremony, Lyra-san! I’m sorry I am the latest one among my siblings to congratulate you. Happy thirteenth birthday!”
“It’s alright, thank you for taking your time to personally greet me, Elise-san!”
Aah, she called me ‘Elise-san’ now.
Back then, I asked her to call me ‘Nee-chan’ before even knowing that she was one of the Hartmann. I had always wanted to have a younger sister, but surely, it’d be a bad practice to ask her to be like my younger sister figure.
Yup, fate didn’t allow that scenario to happen.
Add the fact that…
As I grew older, I found out that one of my relatives had an evil plan that almost harmed this girl before me and her older brother. That was more of the reason why I probably shouldn’t get close to them.
My audacity would be so high if I still dared to try to get close to them after that.
As we were exchanging pleasantries, suddenly…
“Elise-sama, the next dance is about to start,” My personal maid, Karina, tugged me and whispered.
“Ah, you’re going to dance again soon, right? I’ll excuse myself, then,” I was sensible enough to part ways with her. After all, my objective was accomplished.
I quickly scanned the surroundings and found where my siblings were gathered in, so I went to them.
The party was over in no time, and we went home safely.
“Aaah, it’s nice to be at home with comfy clothes!” I stretched my body after I was done changing and washing up.
“Elise-sama, are you going to sleep after this?” Karina asked as she combed my long hair.
“Hmmm…,” I sat on my bed and grabbed the nearby doll, hugging it while letting Karina comb my hair. I glanced at the clock in my room.
“It’s not too late yet, so I’m going to visit Yanze!” I decided right away.
As expected, Karina’s hand stopped for a moment at me mentioning Yanze, before she continued brushing my hair.
“Elise-sama, don’t you think he’d be bothered with that?” Karina asked.
“Mmmm… I know him, he isn’t bothered by me at all. He looks like he’s annoyed at anything and everything, but that’s just his default face, don’t mind it,” I answered.
“Is that so?”
“Yeah. You’re afraid of him, aren’t you, Karina?” I turned around when I felt that Karina finished combing my hair.
Karina reluctantly nodded.
“It’s alright. Almost everyone said so and avoided him. It didn’t help that he was acting all distant, too,” I nodded.
“If I may know, why do you insist on visiting and hanging out with him, even when he doesn’t seem to appreciate it, Elise-sama? Even after all these years…” Karina asked.
She thought I was too young back then, so I didn’t hesitate in approaching Yanze.
But even after I am this old, I still cling to him.
“Well… He’s always alone. I want him to not feel lonely, so I always visit him. Besides, he never turned me away or treated me horribly, right? I know he enjoys my company deep down.”
“That is…,” Karina was at a loss of words.
Yes, that thought of mine never changed.
From that day, I only wished for him to be happy.
That day, when I was still a very small girl… That time, I was like everyone else, reluctant to get close to Yanze, who was grumpy almost all the time, who never really welcomed anyone.
The rest of my family went away to some event, while I was left at home with the maids because I was too young to tag along.
I was asleep when the scary storm woke me up.
Perhaps all the maids were too busy and panicked due to the sudden storm, so I was left unattended.
The hall was dark and intimidating, although it wasn’t supposed to be night yet. I walked feebly, trying to look for someone as I whimpered.
Somehow, I encountered Yanze in the middle of my journey to find anyone. But since it was the intimidating Yanze, I shied away and avoided him.
My careless self almost fell from the stairs when I felt warm hands holding me, saving me from losing my life or injuring myself.
Just as I was still processing everything, he walked away, so I unconsciously followed him. I felt like he glanced at me several times, as if making sure I was following him.
Then, I finally managed to find my maid at that time, by following him.
From that day, I never feared Yanze anymore. Because I knew, beneath that cold appearance, he was kind.
“Elise-sama, if you want to visit him, maybe it’s better to go now?” Karina’s words dispersed my reminiscence.
“Oh, you’re right. Let’s go!” I quickly rushed off towards where Yanze was living in.
There were so many mysterious things about him. For example, the fact that he was living in a hidden place in our residence for years. And it was unknown who he was exactly. All that me and my siblings knew were that he was part of the Elandia family.
And the last one was…
“Yanze~ You are still awake, aren’t you?” I slowly opened the door that wasn’t locked and peeked inside.
Inside his ‘living room’ that never really had guests apart from me, some of the maids, and my father, the dark red-haired boy was leisurely reading a book, sitting on the sofa.
As I approached, he seemed to notice me as he turned to look at me with his yellow eyes.
“Oh, there you are! What are you reading, Yanze?” I quickly took the seat that was next to him.
Karina bowed to him before asking if we wanted her to brew some tea.
Before Yanze could say anything, I quickly accepted her offer.
“I don’t want the tea—”
“There’s a very good tea that I’d like you to try with me! It’s said to be good for your health!” Again, I didn’t leave a room for him to say otherwise. I knew him, he never really wanted to try anything new, but if he never tried, how could he know that something was great or not?
I also did this so Karina had a chance to not stay with us, for I knew that she didn’t seem to be comfortable around Yanze.
I had asked her to leave me alone when I was with Yanze, but that stubborn girl insisted on accompanying me, just in case. That was one of the reasons why I liked Karina.
Too bad that she didn’t grow to like Yanze… I thought that over time, she’d be comfortable enough with him. But the reverse happened.
“How was your day?” Yanze closed his book and asked me.
Yay, that was one of the improvements for him!
Before, I’d be the one to initiate our talk, but after some time, he was willing to be the one to talk to me first.
“It’s good, but tiring enough. I just returned from a party,” I said as I stretched my hands.
“Huh, a party?”
“Yeah, it’s the coming-of-age ceremony for—”
“It’s alright, there’s no need to tell me the details. I am not interested in the outside world and the noble societies,” he quickly said.
“Aw boo, have some interest, won’t you?” I pouted.
“What for? It’s not like I can go there anyway,” Yanze said.
What he said was true.
I didn’t know why, but his existence was kind of hidden from the outside world. Only a few knew of his existence.
But I had a guess on why.
“Hmm, but let’s go outside to play, just you, me, and Karina, what about it?” I asked.
“I’m sure my father will give his permission. Staying cooped up inside all the time isn’t good. You sometimes go out alone, right? Sometimes you’d go with Karina if you need a hand. Why won’t you go with me as well? I’m no longer a child—”
“I know. Alright, if you insist,” Yanze finally relented.
“Hurray! It’s going to be fun! We are going to look like childhood friends, isn’t that exciting?” I asked as I gently took Yanze’s hand.
Compared to years back, our hands weren’t that much different in size.
Our height, too.
I smiled happily at the thought of us going together and perhaps could look like a pair of childhood friends if not childhood sweethearts?
But when I looked at his eyes that contained a hint of anguish, my smile turned into a bittersweet one.
“I’m sorry…,” I said with a low voice as I hung my head.
The one thing that was truly mysterious of him, and the one that caused everyone to be frightened of him was—no matter how much time had passed, he was always the same.
From the time when I was still a small girl, he had always been the same. His face, his height, his voice… Basically everything.
It was as if he, alone, was frozen still in time, while the rest of the world had their clocks ticking.
Was he aging very slowly, thus he was not human like us, but another species that was blessed with longevity?
At first, I thought so, too, but there was no hint of growth at all even after ten years or more had passed.
He was constant, while everyone else was changing, no matter how small the change was.
I could understand why people who knew him, would fear him and try to avoid him.
But… I could never abandon him, no matter what.
“It’s alright, what’s the use of apologizing here, anyway?” Yanze said as he turned his face away from me.
“Hehe, you’re right… Rather than becoming sad, let’s make beautiful memories while we look the same age, to our hearts’ content!” I smiled and tried to hide my sadness, too.
Though I was happy that we finally could look like the same age, soon, I’d look older than him… The thought alone made me sad, but it wasn’t something I could change, right?
Or could it be changed?
“Hey, Yanze, are you sure there’s nothing that we can do to cure you of your condition?”
Just as I asked about it, Karina returned with two cups of tea for us. I grabbed my cup, and so did Yanze.
After he took a sip, he answered.
“There is no cure. This isn’t an illness, after all,” he said.
“Hmm, then anything to fasten your aging?” I asked.
“That won’t work either.”
“…Is that so… That’s too bad… There’s nothing we can do to change your fate, then?” I sipped the same tea that had a hint of bitterness. But this time, the bitterness felt way too strong than the usual.
“Change my fate… Yeah, I refuse to believe in this future… I’ll surely change the fate…,” Yanze mumbled some words that I never could comprehend.
But whenever he mumbled such a mumbo jumbo, his expression changed into a twisted one that contained a hint of sadness, agony, anger, and determination.
And no matter how much I tried to pry, he never told me anything.
Not even who he really was, and what caused him to look like an immortal like this.
“How’s the tea?” I asked.
“Hmm, it’s quite good. Not too sweet, not too bitter. Calming, I guess,” he said as he took another sip.
Aah, I see. So that strong bitterness I felt was just my imagination, huh?
“I’m glad you seem to like it,” I said with a smile.
Yanze, I wonder if there will come a day when I can know more about you?
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