Hellping

[Hikaru V6] Chapter 7

After pushing away the sliding door furiously with both hands, Koremitsu saw Asai’s tense, grim face, the hand holding the pen still trembling.

He went through a lot of troubles from the moment Asai plotted to have him left in the hills, all the way till the moment he got to this place.

He found a bicycle with its tires punctured nearby, rode on it, and pedaled so hard it felt as if flames were soaring out of his eyes and nostrils. This resulted in a police siren approaching from behind, ‘Hey, stop!’ the policemen inside shouting at him.

It seemed there was a report that a savage looking youth was going berserk on a bicycle at the hills.

One of my family members got killed! Some trouble happened! After lying about such things that never occurred, he was sent here on the patrol car.

The calligraphy duel had already begun, and looking at Asai at this point, it was obvious that she was currently at a disadvantage.

But what mattered was that it was not over yet.

“What can you write with those hands!”

Koremitsu yelled at Asai, and the latter’s frozen face looked ready to explode into anger, tears, and turmoil. All sorts of emotions were betrayed by her face.

(Now then, let’s begin.)

He looked at that face, and took a step forward.

 

“Do not go any further. Koremitsu…”

 

Suddenly, an anguished voice rang beside him.

Koremitsu stopped.

He glanced aside, and found Hikaru with his head in his hands, looking extremely pale as he quivered. It was a timid, feeble expression, seemingly yearning for something as he stared at a woman.

It was the extremely beautiful woman seated beside Orime.

 

(Hikaru—!?)

 

No, that was not Hikaru.

However, Koremitsu did see this woman who resembled Hikaru so much, whether it was the white skin, the slender neck, the refined eyebrows, nose and lips.

He first saw her at Hikaru’s funeral.

Back then, that beautiful lady was dressed in black clothes, her head lowered emptily, her eyes filled with clear tears as she smiled silently.

The second time was at Shioriko’s house.

She was dressed in a plain blouse and skirt, watching the Purple Gromwells that surrounded her in the garden. She then slowly walked towards flowers, seemingly caressing them as she touched the petals, her eyes filled with tears again.

The hair, seen bundled together at the funeral and Shioriko’s house, was left dangling naturally this time.

She looked a lot younger with that look, giving the impression that Hikaru was there.

But in fact, Hikaru was beside Koremitsu, his head tilted slightly aside, his lips quivering as his face contorted in agony.

That was the exact same reaction as when they met her at Shioriko’s home.

At that time, Hikaru fell into panic, and looked extremely excruciating.

 

—Sorry, I am really sorry about that…we have to hurry up and look for Shiiko, but…sorry.

 

He continued to apologize profusely, finally burying his face into his knees, concealing his inner heart.

And just like back then, Koremitsu was confused.

“Sorry, Koremitsu…we cannot stay here. Let us return back. We cannot stay here any longer. We cannot, cannot.

He continued to shudder and repeat his words.

(Go back? What? I don’t understand what you’re saying now! Who exactly is that woman!?)

That lady with an uncanny resemblance to Hikaru seemed somewhat intimidated, her expression frozen, probably because Koremitsu was glaring at her. With a soft voice, Orime explained to Koremitsu,

“These are the judges I have invited for today, Miss Fujino Mikado and Mr. Masayuki Tōjō.”

(Mikado—!? And Tōjō!?)

Fujino, as in the ‘Fuji’ Asai had been advocating? In other words, she was the second wife of Hikaru’s father, Hikaru’s stepmother.

(So she’s that young!?)

Both of them did not seem to have the relationship of mother and son, but more like siblings.

Hikaru stared at Fujino with fear and yearning, muttering ‘Do not go’ over and over again.

“We cannot be together. We cannot.”

There was no way Fujino could see Hikaru, but Hikaru was utterly terrified, as if Fujino realized his existence. Even so, he continued to stare at Fujino, ostensibly attracted to her, as he moped around on the tatamis.

“Koremitsu…sorry. Sorry…I…”

I want to get away from that person as soon as possible. Hikaru’s anguished expression and voice was stating this to Koremitsu.

If they were to continue to remain here, Hikaru would probably break apart.

(But if I’m to go away now, what will happen to Asai!?)

And as Koremitsu stood there with his eyebrows raised, Asai, seated on the tatamis, was looking at him with apprehension. Her long thin eyebrows were compacted together, and she was biting her pale lips, looking overly uneasy as compared to usual. The black ink was dripping from the tip of the pen she was holding, spreading on the paper.

Koremitsu yelled,

 

“PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER!”

 

And Asai widened her eyes in shock.

Orime, Fujino, and all the other people present looked stunned because of Koremitsu’s sudden outburst.

Kazuaki, who was beside Asai, remained still with his mouth agape.

Hikaru too stopped groaning as he lifted his head at Koremitsu.

The beautiful, dreamy eyes were pleading for help.

Koremitsu continued,

“WE’RE HERE NOW, SO WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU’RE SO SCARED! STOP BEING SO UNBECOMING OF YOURSELF! DON’T YOU HAVE A PROMISE TO FULFILL!? IN THAT CASE, STOP FLOUNDERING, STRAIGHTEN YOUR BACK, AND JUST DO IT!”

Hikaru too clenched his fists, trying to stop his trembling using his own strength. There was some trust and courage in his eyes that were looking at Koremitsu.

That’s right, Hikaru.

Your will brought me all the way here. Your feelings of wanting to help Saiga drove me here. That’s why, Hikaru,

 

“You’re not alone!”

 

Hikaru lifted his head, and narrowed his eyes, giving a sacred look of respect as he listened.

And Asai was seated over there as she listened in on Koremitsu like Hikaru did. She widened her eyes, her lips quivering—and then, she frowned slowly, and bit her lips firmly. It looked as if she was hastily concealing the emotions she nearly revealed.

It seemed Asai had assumed the words Koremitsu yelled at Hikaru was directed at her.

She straightened her back.

At the same time, Hikaru stood with a clear expression, right beside Asai, ostensibly protecting her.

Koremitsu too strode forth.

He placed his hand on Asai’s shoulder, and hissed as he faced forward.

 

“Leave this to me.”

 

With Koremitsu’s hand placed upon her, Asai’s slender shoulder shuddered slightly.

He took the pen away from Asai, and in her place, had the paper facing him. Asai did not stop Koremitsu as she straightened her body and sat beside him, her eyes still uneasy, seemingly yet to recover.

“I shall leave this to you then, Koremitsu.”

Hikaru whispered.

Orime, Fujino, Tōjō’s father, all those present awaited the first word Koremitsu would write with bated breath.

Kazuaki’s eyes too stared at Koremitsu’s hand from beneath the glasses.

Koremitsu held the pen firmly, dipped an ample amount of ink at the tip, and did not swap out the paper Asai dirtied as he wrote on it.

He drew thick lines with much conniption.

He wrote a large word that filled the entire paper.

It was free and impudent, like a child holding a pen and writing for the first time.

And he shoved the word he wrote to Orime and the rest.

Orime, Fujino and Masayuki again showed bewilderment on their faces. Orime’s grandchildren, watching from the sidelines inconspicuously, were also left befuddled.

Kazuaki’s mouth was wide open too, looking completely disconcerted. Asai widened her eyes speechlessly, and her eyebrows were raised due to anger.

 

“Tsuchinoko(ツチノコ).”

 

That was the first word Koremitsu wrote.

♢ ♢ ♢

(What are you doing!? Are you making fun of me!?)

These words arouse in Asai’s throat, and she nearly lashed out at Koremitsu.

What Tsuchinoko? And such an unrefined, childish handwriting, to boot!

Kazuaki, being right beside her, could not help but laugh.

“Ahahaha, your words are really bold there, Mr. Akagi! I never thought about Tsuchinokos or anything, you know~?”

He said as he fluently wrote the word ‘Kirin (麒麟)’.

“A merciful and wise Kirin does fit you well, Lady Orime.”

It was a word of elegance and intricacy, one Koremitsu’s word could not compare to.

However, Koremitsu continued to remain silent as he scowled, writing,

 

“Kappa (河童).”

 

“Cucumber(キュウリ).”

 

“Snowman(雪男).”

 

“Alien(宇宙人).”

 

Asai’s face was gradually reddening due to shame, and her hands on her knees were not quivering because of jitters, but because of rage at Koremitsu.

(I knew I should not have asked this man for help. Why did I feel relieved when he opened the sliding door? Why did I find him reliable when he placed his hand on my shoulder?)

Asai did not know whether he was here to assist or here to ruin the situation.

I wonder if he came all the way to this place on the police patrol car just to vex me to no end.

Kazuaki looked assured of his victory as he continued to write beautiful words that had multiple meanings, whether at first glance or not.

And his flattery of Orime was going extremely well.

 

“Tsuchinoko Park(ツチノコパーク).”

 

And Koremitsu again wrote Asai’s dark history brazenly on the paper, filling it.

Asai was at her limit.

But just when she was about to complain about it, she widened her eyes in shock.

There was a smile on Orime’s face.

Orime was not giving a wry smile due to shock from Koremitsu’s childish words, but seemed to be reminiscing about something, sympathetic as she narrowed her eyes and opened her lips.

Fujino and Masayuki, flanking her from both sides, were staring intently at Koremitsu’s direction, and not Kazuaki.

With an impassioned, fiery stare, Koremitsu stared at the paper as he wrote his words with his firm, muscular, slender arms spread wide, ostensibly scattering his sweat away.

He continued to write those robust words.

Kazuaki’s words were light and thin, and this was stark contrast to Koremitsu’s robust words, further emphasizing the difference.

What immediately attracted the attentions, and appeared in the sights was not the neat, tidy words of Kazuaki, but the simple, lively words Koremitsu wrote.

Asai too found herself inexplicably attracted.

(Why is my heart throbbing?)

Those words are so crude, so barbaric, like a child’s handwriting.

Those words are supposed to be the one I dislike.

 

“Morning Glory(朝顔).”

 

Koremitsu wrote.

Unlike the childish, brazen words he wrote before this, it was a neat, riveting word that oozed comfort, a textbook example of a pretty word children could look at.

Asai’s heart quivered intensely again, and she felt a clamping sensation.

What a pretty word.

What a dignified word.

What a dignified Morning Glory flower.

And as she had this notion, the next word Koremitsu wrote was,

“Stubborn person (意地っ張り裏番).”

(Is he referring about me?)

While ignoring Asai’s scowl, he continued to write beautiful words at ease, ‘obstinate(強情)’, ‘haughty(高慢)’, ‘conceited(生意気)’ ‘cold(冷徹ツチノコ)’ ‘Mastermind (裏番)’.

(I am just an obstinate, haughty, conceited, cold mastermind after all.)

But for some reason, when Koremitsu began writing those words, ‘Deary me’, ‘you do not have to put it that way’, even Orime was left muttering, her face reddening.

His lips curled into a frown, he wrote,

 

“Clumsy(不器用).”

 

Upon seeing those words, Asai’s heart pounded shrilly.

And then, there was a gentle, flowing line.

 

“Promise.(約束)”

 

At that instance, an image of the bright summer sky appeared in Asai’s mind.

In the midst of the dazzling light, Hikaru, still in his elementary school days, was smiling as he reached his pinky at him. On that day, they had their first promise together.

That was when they were extremely innocent, extremely blissful—

Fujino Mikado, spectating this duel, seemed to narrow her eyes forlornly the moment she saw the words Koremitsu wrote.

Orime again showed the fleeting, distant expression that was filled with dreams.

“…”

It was Kazuaki’s turn next.

243

But Koremitsu put aside the ‘promise’ paper, and continued writing on another piece.

 

“En route.(途上)”

♢ ♢ ♢

(This is the last one.)

Koremitsu stared at the paper, and drew sharp strokes on it with indignation.

Koremitsu, who wrote so many words till this point, had no plans or strategy.

He simply wrote the words he thought of, and the words his friend, the ghost beside him, wanted to convey.

But the last word was what he had decided on.

Koremitsu did not know whether Orime would like it.

But this was the word he wanted to convey to her.

And certainly, Hikaru too—

 

“En route.(途上)”

 

He held the word he wrote firmly in both hands, and showed it in Orime’s direction.

Orime stared at the words in shock, with bated breath, forgetting how to move.

(Hey, granny, you said that you’re like the dew on the Morning Glory, and that you don’t want to do anything now, just waiting for someone to take you, right? But your journey isn’t over yet! You’re still on a journey!)

Koremitsu said these genuine words to Orime in his heart.

Beside him, Hikaru too showed a clear expression at Orime, saying with such gentleness,

“Madam Orime once told me that I would not be able to find an answer if I do not move forth. Right now, I am still on my journey, and nothing can be done if I do get lost. She told me not to be impatient, simply move forward one step at a time, and one day, I will be able to find what I think is the correct answer.”

 

If I understand what that is, can I tell you that, Madam Orime? When Hikaru asked this, Orime answered, I will be glad to listen to you.

 

If it was Orime, who was able to recall such an insignificant promise 10 years ago, she should be able to understand the meaning of the word Koremitsu wrote, even if he did not say it.

Hikaru’s wishes probably were conveyed too.

“Madam Orime, please continue walking. Please do not say that your life has already ended.”

With a gentle expression, Hikaru said to Orime,

“Madam Orime’s path is still to be continued.”

Hikaru’s voice,

Orime would certainly be able to hear it as she reads Koremitsu’s words.

She lived her life vacantly till this point, but she was currently awake, reverting back to her wise expression as she said calmly,

“My journey is still yet to end, huh?”

And so, with a gentle expression, she raised her eyebrows leisurely, showing a smile. She lifted her face, and spoke poignantly with intelligent looking eyes.

“I suppose I should give Mr. Akagi a prize of the highest order for the words that have taught me so.”

Asai widened her eyes.

And Kazuaki bit his lips, looking extremely vengeful.

Masayuki spoke solemnly,

“If this is what the Asagao Princess wishes for, I shall have no dispute over this.”

And Fujino too elaborated cautiously,

“I too am thoroughly impressed by Mr. Akagi’s words. Especially…the word ‘promise’…”

Hikaru too looked to be in an arduous state when Fujino spoke, but he maintained a thin smile as he endured it.

Orime then looked at every single person.

“Now then, it is decided that Mr. Akagi will be given the best prize.”

Asai looked completely incredulous.

And at that moment,

“What are you saying here? This is too strange, is it not? Why are you admitting a person who has no relation to the Mikados, and suddenly barged in, as a participant!?”

The one who stood up to yell was Orime’s grandson.

Koremitsu never noticed him at all as he had such a weak presence.

(Who is he?)

He wondered.

“He is Madam Orime’s grandson.” If not for Hikaru telling him this, he would have assumed the person to be one of the misters amongst the servants with quite the arrogant pomp.

And the granddaughter-in-law, biased towards Kazuaki, insisted along with her husband,

“Yes, that is too weird! Mr. Kazuaki’s words are elegant and beautiful!”

The grandson then gradually raised his voice,

“It must have been your body feeling unwell, grandmother. Have some tea and some rest. Hey, you over there, serve grandmother some tea.”

At this moment, Orime spoke calmly,

 

“I shall not be drinking your tea anymore.”

 

Orime stared at her grandchildren with conviction.

At that instance, both of them were spooked as they exchanged feeble glances with each other, their bodies quivering in panic.

“B-bring grandmother out of here.”

The grandson ordered the servants, and the daughter-in-law gave an excuse to Fujino and Masayuki,

“Grandmother is prone to saying strange things recently.”

The grandchildren did not notice the atmosphere at all because they were panicking. Masayuki gave a frown, and Fujino looked uneasy.

Koremitsu too stared at them intently.

At this moment, he heard Hikaru’s voice,

 

“The reason why you are being so frantic in wanting to excuse Madam Orime, is because you know it will be difficult for you if Madam Orime explains your schemes.”

 

Hikaru’s tone was not sweet like usual, and there was some seething fury betrayed by his eyes, a rarity at that, as he stared at the grandchildren.

“Madam Orime never said anything because she has been sheltering both of you till now, no? But!”

There was a harsh, loud voice echoing in the ears of a stunned Koremitsu. Hikaru actually spoke in such a manner,

“No matter what her true wishes are, I cannot allow this to continue anymore! Madam Orime is the one who accepted me and gave me encouragement, my savior, the Asagao Princess I so respected. If she is unwilling to speak because she is concerned about your welfare, I shall be the one condemning you to protect her!”

Hikaru’s eyes were looking extremely harsh, unlike his usual self.

“It is best that everyone listens to this. I will not allow you two to do anything to Madam Orime again!”

“Hey! Put your hands off granny! I’m going to let everyone hear what you did to her!”

Koremitsu too spoke loud enough for everyone in the room to hear, conveying Hikaru’s words.

‘Let us see what you will say this time’ Asai was giving Koremitsu a wary look, and Fujino, Masayuki, looked over at Koremitsu in shock.

While biting his lips, Kazuaki directed his stare towards Koremitsu.

The grandchildren were increasingly flustered.

“What are you insinuating that we did to our grandmother?”

“Yeah? You looking for a fight?”

They fervently refuted.

Orime stared at her grandchildren emptily, remaining silent.

Maintaining a serious look, Hikaru continued,

“Does everyone know that there is toxicity in Morning Glories? At first, the Morning Glories were imported during the late Nara period as medicine. The seeds were very effective in being diuretics and laxatives, but as they were extremely costly, there was a tale that a cow had to be exchanged for it. That is why the Morning Glory is called the ‘Cow leading flower (牵牛子)’. As a medicine though, there was a terrifying toxin within those seeds,”

And Koremitsu in turn glared at the grandchildren, yelling,

 

“Do you know that the Morning Glory seeds can be used as medicine, but that they’re filled with poison!?”

 

The grandchildren’s shoulders jolted, their eyes wavering.

“Wh-what are you saying now?”

“Y-yes, why are you suddenly talking about Morning Glories? Is it not strange?”

Hikaru however continued with great clarity,

 

“There is one species especially amongst the Morning Glories called the Datura. It is a dangerous plant with a similar medicinal and toxic effects as the Belladonnas. There is a certain alkaloid that has numbing effects, and a few of its seeds can cause intoxication, eliminating a person of his cognitive ability. Because of this, it is used as an anaesthetic during operations.”

 

“There’s a specific troublesome thing amongst Morning Glories, called the Datura. It is used for numbing during operation, but if it’s not used correctly, it’ll be something bad.”

 

“Dizziness, double vision, extreme parchness of the throat, inability to urinate, anxiety, hysteria, hallucinations; these are the symptoms that will occur, and soon after, the person will die.”

 

“The person will have dizziness or whatever, can see two of the same thing, dry throat, anxious, hallucinating, and finally death. Do you know of this!?”

Koremitsu stared over at the duo as he approached the grandchildren immediately. Both of them cringed, continuing to shiver due to Koremitsu’s terrifying glare.

And around them, Asai, Fujino and Masayuki listened to Koremitsu’s words with bated breath. There was anxiety shown in Kazuaki’s eyes hidden beneath the glasses.

Hikaru then pointed,

 

“Those dangerous Daturas are growing in this garden. Near that medicinal garden too! Is this a coincidence!?”

 

“Daturas are growing near the medicine plants in the garden! Do you know that!?”

“Those are Daturas.”

Hikaru pointed his slender, white finger in a direction, and Koremitsu too stiffly raised his finger and pointed,

“Those are Daturas!!”

It was a little garden of medicinal plants, simply surrounded by stones. Beside it were blooming white flowers, with corrugated leaves and petals poking out. Wrapped by the vines, they were showing little spikes on the surfaces, giving off a menacing look.

The grandchildren paled.

 

“The Datura seeds are not the only poisonous part. Its flower, fruit, vines and roots all have toxicity. Daturas and Burdocks roots are similar looking, but it is impossible to mistake each other when Datura roots burrow deep into the ground, no? Is this really just an accidental mistake?”

 

“Datura are not only poisonous in the seeds, but also the roots! Both of you know about this, and yet you grew them there, right!?”

 

“The Burdock tea Madam Orime drinks is good for her body, but you two have been harvesting those things from the garden, brewing them for her every day.”

 

“Granny drinks the Burdock tea every day, but is it really good for her body!? Maybe you weren’t using Burdock to brew, but Daturas, right!?”

Orime could only watch her grandchildren forlornly whilst they were cornered.

Surely she knew.

Both about the fact that the Morning Glories growing by the medicine garden was Datura, and that her grandchildren were mixing Daturas in the tea.

When exactly did it begin?

How long exactly did it continue, that Orime continued to consume it even though it was corroding her body.

Having understood Orime’s inner heart, Koremitsu felt a chill up his spine instead of fury or sadness.

(Granny, you just gave up on everything? You didn’t want to live anymore?)

 

“The symptoms Madam Orime has, dizziness, double vision, parchness of throat, they all fit the description of symptoms caused by Daturas. If she had consumed a large amount at one go, there would be an obvious toxic reaction, and your schemes would have been revealed immediately. However, it seems that you were not anxious for the outcome. You just want to control the fortune that is available, hoping the death of your grandmother as she controls the money, shortening it even if it is little. No, perhaps you never had such radical thoughts. You simply wanted to use the Datura poison to weaken Madam Orime’s body, so that her mind would not be as sharp, waiting for the day to force her to quit her position as the head of the household, control the household.”

 

“GRANNY’S DIZZINESS GETS WORSE BY THE DAY BECAUSE OF THE BURDOCK TEA YOU GUYS BREWED! THAT CAN BE INVESTIGATED! YOU WANT TO USE THE FINANCES OF THIS HOUSEHOLD FREELY, AND FORCE GRANNY TO RETIRE, RIGHT!? YOU CAUSED GRANNY’S EYES TO BE BLURRY, SUCH THAT HER MIND’S UNABLE TO THINK RIGHT, ISN’T IT? YOU’RE SAYING THAT GRANNY OFTEN SAYS SOME WEIRD THINGS RECENTLY, BUT YOU GUYS ARE THE WEIRD ONES, RIGHT!? GRANNY’S NOT THE ONE BEING STUPID! THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE!!”

 

While Koremitsu bellowed, the grandchildren were slumped as they pricked their ears silently, looking at Orime’s direction.

Right, it’s too early to retire! Granny!

You said it before, right? Your journey is still ongoing!

“We-we do not know anything about Daturas or something. We never heard of that before!”

“Y-yes! How can we know about the Morning Glory species when we are not professionals? We do not know, we do not know anything at all!”

The grandchildren yelled haplessly.

The granddaughter-in-law looked over at Kazuaki, seeking his assistance.

“Mr. Kazuaki, I-I just brewed tea for her out of concern for her own health.”

And Kazuaki showed the look of young, wise lord as he answered feebly,

“However, it is not a good thing to brew something for Lady Orime without knowing of the effects.”

“But that is.”

“Mr. Kazuaki!”

The grandchildren’s faces were filled with despair, knowing that they were not getting any protection.

Masayuki and Asai too stared at the grandchildren coldly.

At that moment, Orime placed her hands on the tatamis, her back facing the grandchildren.

And she gave a deep bow.

All of them were stunned as they looked at her.

She placed her head on the tatamis, and spoke solemnly and calmly,

“I have caused everyone worry because of my grandchildren’s folly, and I do apologize for this. I shall focus on educating them after this, and please keep what you heard and saw today within your hearts, everyone.”

There was silence in the room.

Asai and Masayuki, who had been giving the grandchildren icy glares, showed somber looks as they were affected by Orime’s attitude.

Kazuaki too shrugged his shoulders.

“…It sure is a harmonious meeting today.”

Fujino muttered softly, and Kazuaki too chimed in courteously,

“Yes, I too did find it enjoyable today. Please welcome me the next time too.”

The grandchildren watched Orime with moist eyes.

And both Hikaru and Koremitsu gave disheartened looks as they watched Orime remain still, her head still lowered.

♢ ♢ ♢

It was after the calligraphy duel.

Left inside the room were Koremitsu, Asai, Orime—and Hikaru, the four of them.

The early afternoon sun was shining down on the Morning Glory vines and leaves.

Koremitsu had just weeded out the Daturas near the medicine garden, leaving a lumpy hole there.

Orime was seated on Koremitsu’s right under the roof as the latter wiped his sweat, and Asai was seated at the left.

Orime stared at the empty spot beside the garden that was suddenly vacanted, giving a forlorn look as she muttered,

“Actually…the Morning Glory I got from my husband was not the Abyss. The Abyss is a different species altogether, and there was no such species when my husband was still alive…however, when my grandson was still young, we were looking at the Abyss growing in the garden, and I told him about the Morning Glory market ‘I saw a similar colored Morning Glory with your grandfather, you know’…”

 

—This is a flower with both grandfather and grandmother’s memories, no? Its name is called Abyss, right? How do I write it? Please teach me, grandmother.

 

Her grandson, who was always terrified of her, always shriveling out of self-depreciation, showed her a rare smile.

“And so, I answered him ‘yes’.”

With a twig, she wrote the word ‘Abyss’ on the ground for him to see.

And he brought his face close to the ground, writing the word using a twig. As the word was too difficult for a child, he continued to tilt his head to observe, giving his utmost effort.

“…That child probably mentioned this to Mr. Kazuaki. He actually could recall that old incident…”

With a crying smile, Orime whispered.

‘Abyss’ was not the flower she had memories of with her husband, but with her grandson.

They both lived in the same household, yet were distant like strangers, and he in the end conspired with his wife to poison his grandmother using tea—

And yet, there was such a heartwarming event between them.

Orime was probably recalling those events.

And thus, when Kazuaki finished the word and showed it to Orime, the latter showed such a tender yet forlorn look as she smiled,

“I thought that my life could end at any moment…”

Orime continued to whisper as she looked over at the garden, and Asai’s shoulders jolted.

Orime slowly turned her stare in Koremitsu’s direction, showing a forlorn yet refreshing expression as she smiled,

“But my journey is still ongoing. There is still a future out there, no? I want to restart everything, whether it is this garden, or my grandson.”

Her expression became convicted yet optimistic, filled with life, as if those were important, valuable things she had to do.

Hikaru too gave a dazzling smile beside Koremitsu.

And Asai’s shoulders relaxed, seemingly relieved.

Koremitsu too was delighted.

“Now then, what word shall I give my savior?”

And because of Orime’s words, Asai’s shoulder cringed again.

However,

“I don’t need one.”

Koremitsu answered plainly.

“What!?”

Asai exclaimed in shock.

“I can’t do anything even if I do have one. Ahh, but well, how about I write words with you, granny? That’s enough for me.”

“I see. That is an excellent proposition.”

Orime narrowed her eyes.

Like Orime, Hikaru too stared at Koremitsu with clear eyes. It seemed as if he had anticipated this answer.

And Asai contorted her body, leaning forward, ostensibly unwilling to accept this resolution.

“What are you thinking? If you get the word from Lady Orime, Hikaru will—”

“Hikaru does not wish for such a thing.”

With a convicted look, Koremitsu said this to Asai.

The latter raised her eyebrows, wanting to stare back. However, that expression quickly vanished, revealing a feeble one instead.

“Then…what exactly does Hikaru wish for exactly?”

This probably was the first thing Asai did not understand at all. She asked hoarsely.

And because of that feeble expression, Koremitsu was feeling unexpectedly tender.

Ah, yes, this person’s a girl too.

That is why she made such a face.

The warm, tender emotions were slowly floating from deep within Asai, and Koremitsu held her hand like a fragile item.

“Come, let me teach you.”

And beside him, Hikaru smiled,

 

“Let us go, Asa.”

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  1. Excuse me. But chapter 1 is broken please scroll to the bottom and it’s cut off at the part:

    She would sometimes show a feeble look as she stare at the hair swaying on Michiru’s shoulder and the pink cheeks. Whenever that happened, a weaker expression would show.

    I use firefox.

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