Chapter 28 – The Future of the Path We Will Continue On
“Speaking of studying at Termuilles, it was something my father once mentioned. Although he seemed quite worried as he spoke of it…he also took a marriage proposal with Theodore-sama into consideration.”
“I think Beline-san has some expectations as well. She has extremely high hopes for us, but I haven’t accomplished anything yet. That’s why, as Ashley-sama’s friend, we both understand each other’s thoughts on the matter. However, I wanted to talk about this more slowly.”
Ashley nodded at my words with a serious expression.
Rosetta prepared some tea and then left the room.
I closed my eyes. I pondered over Ashley’s matters: what she had said to Morris, and what had happened until now.
Although she was similar to me, I still wanted to discuss her way of life and thought process…
On top of finding a solution to her condition, I felt that she wanted to become a respectable Noble.
However, this was only an assumption based on what Grace said.
She seemed to be heading down a thorny path similar to Mom’s.
It seemed to me that she felt admiration and respect for my mother, as well as a sense of obligation to her.
That’s why she was supporting…huh? Ah, I understood what Grace wanted to say.
Thinking of Ashley, she was just a child with a dream. It would have been easy to abandon that dream if she did know the truth of the situation.
The humiliating words that he spoke were intended to make us conscious of it. We were children, but what was wrong with that?
Besides, I knew that my mother was a person who strove to live by her ideals until the end. It was said that she detested Demons and fought them during that winter five years ago, ultimately passing away without extending her hand towards anyone that came to save her.
Grace had informed Mom that she would be saved if she drank Grace’s blood, but Mom refused Grace in the end. Had she been concerned about Grace’s body?
If she had accepted, Mom might have continued to exist as a vampire, but perhaps she didn’t have any confidence about being safe from contracting that sickness as a Dhampir.
At that time, the ones who saved Mom and brought her back were the Adventurers who were contracted to her. Dad had left his territory and was absent when it was leisure season for the farmers. It was too late by the time Dad found out about the situation. The memories of Kagehisa that I have left…through them, I understood the thoughts of those who left Mom behind. Perhaps they couldn’t afford the risk, but it was likely that they were worried that they would be infected with a Cursed–Sickness, or that they themselves could never help. Perhaps they were afraid that they wouldn’t be able to follow through even if they did attempt to help. There were various factors like these in that situation, and their hands were shaken off by the children who understood them.
It was on a night when the snow fell. I could never forget the backs of the adults who left.
However, until the end, Mom never complained.
After understanding her reasoning, they couldn’t have agreed to it.
You didn’t have to be capable of doing everything. They should have been happy with just giving a word of thanks to Mom. She never wanted to bring about an ending where someone would be abandoned. That was why I gave up hope on those guys and left the House. As to how events would progress after leaving the house, it wasn’t something that I could predict just yet.
Whether it’s Grace or Ashley, they are people who I have acknowledged and will support, walk alongside, and protect.
It would be fine even if it wasn’t always me in this role. I was confident that there were others who felt the same out there, and it would be great if Ashley and Grace encountered dependable people by chance.
On the topic of marriage…especially for the head of a family, they didn’t have the freedom of choice. In short, I wasn’t confident in being able to marry someone from an unknown place. Fortunately, such a person had not appeared yet.
“Even if you say something at this point, it’s probably just a desire. Freely breaking off an engagement with Ashley-sama is meaningless if we don’t accomplish anything by doing so. Even so, allow me the right to be involved in your life.”
I could become a bulwark for Ashley on various issues by having her become my fiance.
However, all of this was for my personal gain. I wanted to use this chance to avoid seeing what I didn’t want to see. I moved for myself, and only myself. It couldn’t be helped if Ashley became disillusioned, but I couldn’t live the way Mom did, and I had no intentions of doing so.
No matter what way of life Ashley chose in the future, my evaluation of her would never change. I wouldn’t forget the words that were said by Morris. I just needed to let the girls know of the prerequisites. If I was able to, I would grab hold of everything and run.
Ashley took a deep breath after taking in my words and quietly responded.
“Ever since my parents passed away…Kennel never really let me go outside. I was afraid of going outside as well. I had accepted that as reasonable at the time. There had always been a lot of people at my side because I often fell ill ever since my youth. I thought of what I was and wasn’t capable of doing. My brother was always there for me, after all.”
…Things she was capable of doing, huh?
“But, even Brother didn’t return. I was suddenly told that I was the head, but I didn’t understand what I was supposed to do. I’ve heard about it countless times though, that the one who avenged my mom and dad was―”
“My mom, right?”
Ashley closed her eyes and nodded.
“I’ve been told of Risa-sama’s story countless times, from people who were like legends to me. I’ve always admired…such people. I thought about standing up straight and looking ahead because I wanted to become like Risa-sama, even though I was always weak. Kennel was patiently waiting for the day when I would stand up and work towards my own goals.”
She stared straight into my eyes as she said this.
“I think you already know everything that I know on the matter. I wondered about whether you truly were Risa-sama’s son when I listened to Oslo, as well as when I heard that you were from the Gartner Family. When I heard that, I ran out of the house.”
This surely was…perhaps she wanted to apologize to me.
She admired Mom. That was why she wanted me to forgive her, for her sake. Her words would be interpreted as such.
So…it wasn’t only me, she also spoke with Grace about Mom, huh? They became quite friendly.
“But, I want Theodore-sama to forgive me and accept me, along with my bothersome condition. You’re very mysterious, and I was happy. I also realized that such a thing was the continuation of my fairy tale. I thought that anything would be possible for me with a healthy body. That was why I prevented Theodore-sama and Grace-san from leaving on this unpleasant note, as it would have separated us.”
“It was on that night, right? The night you dropped by and wanted to talk to me about something.”
Ashley nodded at Grace’s words.
“It was something I couldn’t possibly have let Theodore-sama hear…no matter what.”
“But Ashley-sama has known about me since the beginning, right?”
I had even heard rumours that Mom took care of Grace. That was why Ashley wasn’t scared even if she was a Dhampir, huh?
Without knowing the details, it may have seemed that Mom’s final wishes were for both Grace and I to be taken care of.
“Yes. I thought the two of you were incredible and suited each other well.”
Ashley’s expression became cloudy for a moment after she smiled at us.
“Besides being a Noble, I plan to consider some matters for a while longer. I think it is still early for me to consider matters such as marriage proposals.”
I didn’t know the extent to which Kennel had taught her about matters that involved marriage proposals, though.
At the very least, it seemed that she hadn’t considered it thoroughly.
“…However, after speaking about the matter with the two of you…It would be nice to stay by your side. Will you forgive me for feeling this way?”
“I’m not a stranger. Ashley-sama can agree to this if it’s you. Ashley-sama had been waiting to relate to you the words she wanted to relay to Risa-sama after all.”
The words she wanted to relay to Mom, huh?
Perhaps I wanted to hear those words from another person’s mouth.
“My response was already relayed, you know. It won’t change.”
I responded as such while the two of them looked at me.
Both of them smiled in response.
“Shall I go make some tea?”
Just as we finished our conversation, a knocking sound resounded throughout the room, and Rosetta entered the guest room with a strange smile on her face as she brought in a tea set. This timing…
She quickly poured some tea and laid out some tea cakes.
“Were you waiting at the door?”
Rosetta’s expression hardened as she heard my retort, and her eyes began to swim.
“Well…it doesn’t matter.”
She was also truly worried.
As for her, who lived at Termuilles, although I had thought that she had no relations to me besides her connection to Dad, perhaps she thought otherwise.
However, I was given the cold shoulder by House Gartner, and I came to Termuilles as a result, so did she perhaps want to meddle with my affairs because she had some lingering regret regarding Mom?
The stringent feelings she held regarding Dad hinted towards the reason she acted this way.
…The events from tomorrow onwards, huh? We had plenty of time. I wondered if I should allow Rosetta to join in and consult with her. There was no doubt in my mind that she had taken an interest in us.