49 – Bonds
“Excuse me, Lord Count.”
Came a girl’s voice, as the three figures entered the room.
“…President Sherry, Rev, Ms. Aize.”
“Sorry that we come so late.”
The three bowed their heads, and father nodded that it was fine…and then Sherry walked over to me.
Her face—was angrier than I had ever seen it. And it was bright red.
Just how much trouble I had caused her.
I was going to apologize.
—But then tears started to fall from both of my eyes.
“Idiot…that was so stupid…to go off by yourself…!”
“Do…do you have any idea how worried we were!”
While crying, she threw her arms around me.
Tightly. Just like that day, when she hugged Ms. Aize.
“I’m sorry… If only I had noticed…!”
“…No, you’re wrong. I really was being stupid.”
“I completely agree.”
Rev said with an exasperated expression as he touched his forehead.
“Who goes off on their own like that? And you even turned off your phone? When you…have people you can rely on? And even if you think we would just slow you down…there’s him.”
Rev turned towards Yukito.
Teacher looked very surprised by this. Rev clicked his tongue in annoyance.
It was clear that he did not want to admit it.
But that was how worried he was about me.
“…I didn’t think you would leave me there.”
She was expressionless as usual, but there was a hint of exasperation there as well.
“Is that all your promise to me meant to you?”
The promise that I had made. It was very important to me.
You could even say that this past year had been about it.
“…I was just joking. For once. But I’ll need an apology.”
“More importantly, the tournament…”
“Do you even need to ask? Obviously, I won.”
Good. I thought. But at the same time…
So it’s finished then. I already knew it, but it was like having it thrust in front of me. And so I looked down.
It had all been my own doing. The result of turning my back on it. I could make no excuses.
As for Ms. Aize, I could tell by her expression, that she was not satisfied by this result either.
“There is no meaning if I don’t win by beating you, Iria.”
I felt happy when she said that.
But also angry at myself for not being able to live up to her expectations.
“As an apology, will you fight me tomorrow?”
“After the group battle, there will be an exhibition match.”
I turned to my father and he nodded with a chuckle.
Sherry did the same as she wiped her face.
“…I explained it to the steering committee, and they gave their permission. Because you were first runner up last year.”
“But you don’t have to, if you haven’t recovered enough.”
“I will do it.”
I answered immediately.
Of course, if I was being offered a chance…then I wanted to fight.
This may be our last chance to do it.
Ms. Aize sighed in relief.
I detected it from her expression.
She must have been worried about me as well.
It would not have been easy, persuading the committee to allow this exhibition match.
Besides, there was no benefit in it for her.
Still, it was the only way that I could leave this behind with the least amount of regret…
She muttered and nodded back.
Her voice sounded just a little different than usual.
After discussing the group battle that would be held tomorrow, the three of them returned to their homes.
And so I also made my way back to my room, when Teacher stopped me with a ‘Ms. Iria.’
“…I think there is something that I better ask you about.”
“Has your desire for revenge changed at all?”
I gasped in surprise.
“…It has not changed.”
Indeed, it was probably not the right answer.
However, I could not lie to those eyes that pierced into me.
The desire to kill. The burning hatred and rage.
I could not extinguish it.
“I do not think that you are wrong.”
He said. Not telling me that it was a mistake, or that it was evil. Not once.
“Hatred and anger won’t disappear so easily. It is a part of your heart. But…”
He looked into my eyes.
And they were endlessly kind.
“I don’t want you to forget. that there are still people who worry for you, and hope for your safety. We won’t reject your wish for revenge, but don’t do it at your own expense.”
Earlier, I had wished hard enough that I could sacrifice everything for it.
Ah—perhaps that was the only mistake.
“And this is my own wish. That you be someone who does not shame this sword that you have honed yourself. That it remains clearer than anyone else’s.”
A sword clearer than anyone’s.
The one thing left that connected me to the brother I was pursuing.
I would never forget his death.
And the hatred and anger may not fade away.
However, if I allowed it to paint over all of my memories of him, then there may be nothing left of him inside of me.
I did not want that.
At the same time…
Teacher said that my sword was beautiful—I did not want to continue to betray him.
“That’s all I wanted to say. Sorry for stopping you. Well, I’m leaving now…”
“…Will you watch me again?”
Just that. A selfish request.
The tournament was already finished. And the fight with Ms. Aize would end tomorrow. There would be no finals for me.
Our eyes met.
He said with a laugh.
I couldn’t help but avert my eyes.
I didn’t know how to look at him.
I saw him off, and then returned to my room and fell into my bed.
But to my annoyance, my heart continued to beat loudly.
…Though, I didn’t completely hate it either.