I was absentmindedly grinding magic herbs at a desk set up by the window in the reception room when a clear voice echoed from behind me.
After parting with Vivienne and Tillois, then spending some time with Mika for a while, I returned to my room, finished wrapping up for the day, and was about to go to bed. Marie came and asked me excitedly, “Is it true that Your Highness Nagi danced today?!” so I was at a loss for what to answer, but I was also tired because of that, so I thought I could sleep in no time.
However, no matter how long time passes, there was no hint of sleepiness.
My body was tired, but only my consciousness was alert and clear.
Since I could not sleep much, I had no choice but to work on the simple task of grinding magic herbs like this.
As Mika approached, he put my fallen nightgown, which had slipped off, over my shoulder again. He peeked at my hand and uttered his usual line, “What grass is that?” He has always asked that question when I have some kind of magic plant with me.
Mika was also wearing a white linen nightgown, and I think he was just about to go to sleep. Unlike me, he probably doesn’t have trouble sleeping or anything like that. I thought he would probably tease me and say, “You’re scared, aren’t you?” but the way he said it was gentler than I expected.
“A lot has happened today, after all.”
“What’s with that? You won’t get anything out of it even if you’re kind to me.”
“What? Aren’t I usually always kind to you?”
My heart beats faster as Mika speaks to me with his hands on the desk. Mika, peeking in with a smirk, looked awfully happy, and I wished he would stop doing that as well. I don’t think he has any way of knowing my situation, and it’s just unusual to be able to talk to him on a night when we usually don’t see each other very often.
Mika sniffed the herb scent and blinked his eyes, then asked.
“What is that thing you’re grinding up? It kinda smells nice.”
What I’m grinding now is a magic medicinal herb called Powan.
Subconsciously, I think I have a scary feeling about Baroness Tessier and her background. I thought that I should have some countermeasures, so I decided to grind up the Powan herb.
Even more so if Mika is going to investigate Baroness Tessier, I also need to do something at the very least…
“Powan herb. The kind to make love potions and such. I just made this one, it’s a Keroli herb that can be used as a truth drug and such.”
“Haha, that’s a funny name.”
Mika seems to be in a good mood, after all.
Mika said he’d look into it himself, but I wonder if he doesn’t feel scared. If he’s going to investigate the other party while still being a personal knight, then the only time he has is at night or on rest days.
A personal knight is basically someone who acts primarily for the royal family he serves. Its priority is above the order from His Majesty.
(He should just…stay with me all the time.)
I shook my head as if to drive out such weak feelings, because my anxiety made me think such an unreliable thing.
Mika stared at the Powan herb and said.
“Hmm. Love potion, huh.”
“What of it?”
“If you accidentally made me drink it, will I fall in love with you?”
“Fufu, I wonder. You like me quite a bit, don’t you?”
When I say love potion, I don’t mean something very powerful.
It only has the effect to the extent of attracting someone’s attention, just like Mika earlier saying that it smells good. So, when Mika, who already has a trusting relationship with me, drank it, the effect should only be a little misunderstanding.
Still, I feel more at ease making it than not making it. I grind the grass, thinking it would be nice if I can use it for something.
“……You’re right, but…”
I heard Mika trailing off his words, and I thought, “Huh?” Then I looked at Mika.
Unexpectedly, his face was very close and my heart skipped a beat. I can smell Mika’s refreshing scent. I wonder if it’s a scent from a soap. I think it’s a smell that suits him well, someone who’s always so refreshing.
Mika looked sulky for some reason, I wonder why? I thought of that while blinking my eyes.
But, in this world where I started over— Mika is the man I trust the most.
He had to have at least a little bit of liking for me, and I was aware that he had it. I don’t know why he looked pouty, but I don’t think anything is going to happen even if I gave Mika a love potion. The truth drug would usually be more effective, though.
That’s right, speaking of which.
“I can’t wait to go to the sea tomorrow.”
Actually, tomorrow we are going to the Côte de Marais, Count Chardin’s territory.
A lot of things have happened this summer.
Starting with my unexpected return from death, every day was filled with new things and it made me dizzy.
Even after the summer break started, I went to Marquis Lambert’s territory, went to Taurus mine, made a proposal for the relocation of the refugee settlement… and from there, the birthday party tonight.
In the beginning, there were nights when I could not sleep, thinking that every day was a dream. I spent every day with Mika, talked to new people, and had many moments of fun, unlike my first life.
I became more and more afraid that one day I would suddenly wake up and find out it was all over.
But each time, as soon as I woke up, Marie was yelling at me, then Mika came out of the next room with a sleepy look on his face. That made me feel relieved every time. I will probably spend many frightening nights like this until I solve the mystery of my return from death.
Even so, if this is the real “present time”, I want to cherish it. I want to believe in the reality that is the “present time”.
(I will never repeat the same thing ever again…)
I’m sure it’ll be fine. When I saw Mika’s smile, I could think that way for some reason.
It was a summer that was always bustling with things, and now all that was left is to relax at the beach. With that in mind, I can finally catch my breath.
Côte de Marais is the nearest sea, straight south of the royal city of Corliss. Just a day of being rocked in a horse-drawn carriage, and I will get there by tomorrow night.
The blue sky and sea, the white buildings, and Count Chardin’s red hair.
Just imagining it already makes me breathe out a sigh of relief.
“My father keeps asking me when we’re coming. Even though I already told him the date…”
“Fufu, I’m glad that he seems to be doing well.”
“……I heard he paraded around the territorial capital just because I became a personal knight.”
“Haha, as expected of him. Perhaps there will be a parade for your triumphant return tomorrow?”
When I said that, Mika looked very uncomfortable. Then after I said, “I wonder if he’d really do that,” I saw Mika’s face turn even paler, and I couldn’t help but chuckle.
As I laughed, Mika was staring at me when I noticed it, and then he said.
“It’d be troublesome if he held a triumphant return parade tomorrow, let’s go to bed early.”
“We have plenty of time to sleep in the horse carriage.”
“If you don’t feel well and ride the carriage, you’ll end up lying down on my lap again.”
I stopped moving suddenly, remembering Mika letting me lie down on his lap in the carriage on the way to the Taurus mine.
I thought to myself, “I have to be rocked in a carriage all day, my heart can’t take it if I have to lie down on his lap all the time,” and I quickly started putting away my tools. The magic herb was supposed to be left overnight anyway.
But, at that moment…
Mika suddenly rested his hand on top of mine on the desk, then I looked up at him with a blank face.
I was met with Mika’s face with a grin on it, and he told me teasingly.
“Do you need me to sleep together with you?”
I feel annoyed, wondering why he teases me in that way again.
I think it’s because we’re childhood friends, but I want him to stop treating me like a child. My face turned into a frown and my brows furrowed. What would he do if I said okay? …As I thought about it, I suddenly remembered.
That it worked so well when I tried to seduce Mika before.
If I get on board with that idea now, won’t Mika get panicked? I remembered that. I kept thinking while still stopping my movement.
Can I challenge Mika, who teases me like he has a higher advantage? We don’t have to sleep while sticking close to each other like in the carriage, we can just sleep next to each other.
The more I think about it, this is no different than the sleepovers we had when we were little.
I would never, ever say this out loud, but to be honest, I’m still afraid when I think of Baroness Tessier.
Also, I’m angry at Mika for treating me like a kid so blatantly like this. If he was going to tease me while saying that, I decided to face it by taking his words seriously.
“Really? Then, you can go lie down in my bedroom first.”
“I want to wash my hands properly with hot water until I get rid of the herb smell.”
I left the shaken Mika behind and walked quickly toward the bathroom.
A simple bathroom is installed in my room, so I can soak my hands in hot water to warm them there. Remembering Mika’s panicked reaction, I started to wonder what kind of face he must have waiting for me on the bed while eating his own words. I couldn’t help but laugh.
A short time later, I opened the bedroom door to see an awkward-looking Mika lying down with his hands under his head. I flipped up the blanket and slid in to the left side, to the right side of Mika.
I reached over and turned off the small magic lamp next to the bed and heard Mika’s displeased-sounding voice.
“…Wow, this place smells like you, Nagi.”
“It’s my bedroom after all.”
Of course, Marie must have changed the sheets every day, but it’s still my room.
I wondered why he was saying such an obvious thing. With his displeased way of saying it, I wonder if it stinks a little… I couldn’t help but feel worried, but as I thought, having someone beside me was somewhat of a relief and I closed my eyes with a good feeling in my heart.
“I feel like I can have a good dream for some reason.”
“I see. I think…I might not be able to sleep.”
“Why? You should just sleep.”
As Mika said that with his eyes closed, I thought that his tone of voice is really soothing…
Is it because I’ve heard his voice since I was little, or is it simply a soothing kind of voice? But that slightly sweet, soothing voice made me laugh a bit. Then, “I know,” I thought. When I have a funny feeling like this before I have a dream, I know I will fall asleep soon.
I whispered quietly, hoping that it would reach him.
“Good night, Mika…”
“Ah, yeah. Good night…”
My body gets heavier and heavier. I guess I was tired after all.
I surrendered my body, sinking into the bed.
I fell asleep right away, and I didn’t know I was rolling over and rubbing my cheek against the warm presence nearby.