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Some time after I had withdrawn to my own room, someone knocked on the door. All I felt from that was a bad premonition.
And, sure enough, Gerard stood outside when I opened the door a crack.
“Let us have a talk among fellow men tonight!”
What’s he on ’bout?
“Sorry, but there exists a deep rift between me, an unmarried chap, and a guy with a wife and child. Since I won’t be able to emphasize at all, I’ll gladly refrain.”
“Don’t be so wary! Please tell me about your partner!”
……About Indra? No choice, I guess.
I opened the door properly and allowed him to enter.
“First, let us celebrate!”
“The formation of your party!”
…I was lost for words.
But then I toasted with Gerard. And once he took a sip, he started to talk, “…I realized after hearing Indra’s murmur. That I had always looked at a glorified image of a hero.”
…What’s the point in tellin’ me now after all this time?
“Back then you were clad in an aura of danger and thrill, which was yet another of your charms. You remained detached from everyone else due to your speed and strength which were unattainable for others, and yet you tended to believe others relatively easily, considering you didn’t let other people get close to you. I longed for that. Sword, you were the perfect 『model of an adventurer』 in my mind.”
…Yeah, ‘kay, he’s not stopped sayin’ revoltin’ stuff, just as I thought. Guess I’ll chase him out.
“That’s why I wanted to catch up…catch up with you and stand next to you. …Indeed, that’s what I’ve always thought, but…after seeing Indra, I knew. No one other than her would be able to stand next to you.”
I stared at Gerard, taken aback. Gerard didn’t return the look, however. His eyes were lost in the glass in his hand.
“…Her words and appearance as she genuinely sympathized with you, not as adventurer or hero, but as a friend, without any adoration whatsoever… Only someone who would consider you a friend and partner without feeling any obligations towards you…like her…is able to stand by your side. That’s why…congratulations, Sword. You have found a true friend who’s going on adventures together with you,” Gerard lifted his face and smiled at me.
His face lacked all of the previous somewhat-crazed longin’.
I shrugged my shoulders, “Thanks. …Well, she’s a bundle of troubles, but above all, she’s fun to stick with. We met durin’ a request by coincidence, but…I guess I found someone totally unexpected there.”
――The words she said at the end of our stay at the academy still reverberated in my ears.
『If you don’t regret having met me and me having become your partner, and if you don’t think that it’d have been better for me to remain a noble daughter of Earl Springcoat, then please stop being so obsessed about this. I’m glad that I became your partner』
Well, I really think so myself as well.
And because of that I wanted to get rid of that father and her daughter, in an attempt to free myself from the feeling that I appeared to wish for your unhappiness. But, if you think of me like that, can you forgive me as someone who wished for your unhappiness?
“…So, how far did you go with Indra?”
Since I had been broodin’ on my own stuff, his words didn’t quite register with my mind.
“…Hmm? Sorry, did you say somethin’ just now?”
“I asked you how far you’ve gone with Lady Indra. …You’re going to marry her, right? Did you already propose to her?”
“You described her appearance durin’ dinner as cross-dressin’, and yet you ask somethin’ like that?”
When I confronted him with that question in response, Gerard averted his face and cleared his throat artificially, “……Well, to be frank, she doesn’t really look like a woman…but that’s normal for children, right? In the first place, everyone has their own taste in partners.”
“Wait a sec, could you not label my taste to be ‘that’? I have――”
I swiftly erased the past memory that crossed my mind.
“At the very least, I have absolutely no interest in women who look like little brats,” I declared distinctly.
“But, won’t you make her cry if you treat her that coldly when she’s showering you with that much affection? In the worst case, the partner you found at long last will…”
His voice faded away while talkin’, probably because he realized the unlikelihood of his own words.
“Don’t worry, that girl, no, that girl for sure is a true, natural adventurer. She shows absolutely no interest in romance, and loves monsters and races other than humans! And she keeps insistin’ on her misunderstandin’ that adventurers are those explorin’ the unknown! She takes people’s lives easy, and readily sacrifices all humans, who are not her friends, treatin’ ’em like things! Even in dungeons, she deliberately sets up dangerous rules to get a kick out of clearin’ the place! …That’s the kind of person Indra is.”
Gerard blinked in surprise.
“That’s why neither I nor her are interested in any love affair as you seem to imagine it. I mean, I sympathize with her more than with anyone else, and she seems to feel the same ’bout me as well. But, that’s not a lover’s relationship, but one of friendship. She’s been sayin’ so as well,” I explained with all my might.
“Hmm, well, if you deny it to such an extent…let’s leave it at that. But, Sword, you should know that there exist all kinds of relationships between a man and a woman, no?”
“I know what you wanna tell me, but that doesn’t apply to us. Rather, her true nature is much more that of some old lecher than any other average guy would have.”
――I really wonder what’s up with that old lecher mindset of her ‘nyway? Well, it sounds like she experienced a plethora of romantic relationships in her other world…
She seems to have a level-headed, philosophical outlook on things, but it’s that of an old lecher. Oh, maybe that’s the reason why she’s forgivin’ her lil’ sister.
Kinda like sayin’, 『A man gotta forgive a woman’s tomfoolery with a laugh』. She’s no guy, though. …Still, if she’s forgivin’ her…if Indra says it’s fine, then so be it.
――Suddenly I recalled the time when she cried.
Just when she took a weird pose, though it wasn’t her way…of trying to tempt me by pretending to be sexy or some such, she suddenly recalled her past, and started to cry. As I had seen her make such a face for the first time, I got startled, hugged her, and soothed her.
…She said that she cried after recallin’ a guy she wouldn’t be able to meet ‘nymore. Mumblin’ something about him not bein’ able to praise her now that she finally got pretty legs…
…Maybe that guy, who used to be her lover and might have married her, would become her lover once more if they met ‘gain. And maybe he’d praise her legs for finally havin’ become pretty.
While ponderin’ ’bout such stuff, I drank together with Gerard.
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