A voice that seemed to pierce the ears echoed in the room.
Yuna heard that for certain.
“What in the world happened?”
“Oh my goodness, she’s collapsed.”
“Lady Celiastina, please hold on.”
Several shouts rained down in a bundle.
Yuna realized they were all familiar voices, but it was as if she couldn’t move her body. Her body was heavy like it was hardened in wax.
Her head hurt.
Her throat was dry and she couldn’t speak.
“… There’s no need to be concerned, it appears that she only lost consciousness.”
“But what happened?”
“I don’t know. In any case, we can only let her rest in a separate room and watch her condition.”
“For caution’s sake, let us call a doctor. Neisan, I’m entrusting this to you.”
The air in the room shook with uneasiness. Yuna felt that acutely against her skin.
She had to… open her eyes.
She had to wake up—!
Putting in all her might, Yuna cracked her eyes open.
Her body was finally beginning to comply to her will. She blinked her leaden eyelids a few times and the world became clearer frustratingly slow. The first thing reflected in her eyes was the room’s ceiling. It was a brightly colored high ceiling where goddesses danced and it made her remember nostaglic sensations from somewhere.
Following that, Yuna tried to look around her surroundings but it was like her body wouldn’t listen to that at all. Meanwhile, there was the presence of several people right beside her. What caught her attention was the name they called— Celiastina. Was she right beside Yuna right now? And she lost consciousness?
She tried to call Celiastina’s name in a voice that was barely a voice.
“Cel… as… na.”
Little by little, a sound began to leak from her throat to mix in the air. However, the pace was maddening. What exactly happened to her own body?
Still, on her third try, she managed to call out that name.
There was no response from Celiastina. But, instead, someone else seemed to have noticed Yuna’s awakening.
“D-Dear. Dear! Yuna is…!”
It was the voice of her mother, Madela. Yuna could tell that immediately.
—Aah, her mother was right beside her!
Struck by that thought, Yuna moved her body with all her might and turned her head in the direction of the voice, though it was an awkward movement. She also managed to focus her awareness and blinked many times. Eventually, her focus came together and as soon as she found the unmistakable sight of her mother in her vision Yuna was about to cry again. However, currently, she also couldn’t make tears.
Her father, Rendo, bounded over to her side like a shot.
“Da… d. Mom.”
“Oh Lord, to think it’s real! You’ve really woken up—“
Madela buried her face in Yuna’s shoulder and cried. Rendo grabbed Yuna’s right hand and clenched his teeth, as if to hold back his tears.
Looking at their appearance, Yuna began to understand what happened to her own body at last.
“This time, it’s my turn to save you.”
Celiastina’s words which she last heard in that white world. It was obvious that she saved Yuna. She didn’t know where this place was, but it was neither heaven nor that white world; it was the real world.
—Yuna woke up.
“I’ve… return… ed. Celias… tina… saved… me.”
“Yes, that’s right. The Lady Saint’s prayers saved you. I really can’t believe it. I’ve had this dream night after night; the dream that you would wake up like this. But this time it’s real, right?”
Madela raised a face which was drenched with tears and whispered that. Yuna nodded clearly. —It wasn’t a dream, it wasn’t a dream.
“Don’t worry, using her powers might have been a burden on her body and she only lost consciousness.”
It was a calm voice, as deep as the sea. Past the shoulders of her parents she saw the figure of Linus. Why was he together with her parents? Yuna nodded quietly while thinking this to be strange. If Celiastina was also safe then she was relieved.
“Lord Asyut, my daughter has really woken up. I can’t believe it and it’s like a dream. Aah, thank you so much. Thank you so, so much for saving my daughter, truly.”
Madela, who was clinging onto Yuna, finally raised her upper body and cast her words behind her.
Yuna heard that and her body, which was still stiff, shook clumsily.
She couldn’t believe the name she heard from her mother’s mouth.
It couldn’t be that even Asyut was in this place?
Yuna nervously – though even if she rushed she couldn’t go any faster than that – moved her head and explored the room with her gaze.
When she looked closely, in addition to Linus, there was Siegcrest, Aeneas, and even Yodel and Nasha were looking over here. No one had changed. And then— ah, Asyut was certainly standing right beside her.
Asyut bent his knees beside Yuna, looking as if he was seeing something dazzling. Madela and Rendo slid their bodies over slightly to create space for him.
Asyut murmured lowly like a sigh.
“I’m so glad you woke up.”
And then he closed his eyes quietly and tilted his head down just a little.
Yuna still couldn’t believe it. Asyut was facing her like this, no one else but Yuna herself. Right now, the one reflected in his eyes was unmistakenly Yuna. It wasn’t Celiastina, but Yuna.
Yuna stared solely at Asyut while trembling with joy.
No words came out.
For the first time, Yuna saw Asyut shed tears.
For several days after that, Yuna repeatedly slept and woke like a baby.
The condition of her body, which could barely move or speak initially, became markedly better each time she woke up. It was a sensation like she was gradually taking off heavy armor. Considering that she had slept for a year but that it seemed like her muscles weren’t especially emaciated, she once again felt the power of the saint’s miracle was hard to believe.
Although Celiastina herself also woke up for a moment after using her powers she was like Yuna and seemed to sleep and wake repeatedly. Oftenly, when Yuna was awake Celiastina was sleeping and when Celiastina was awake Yuna was sleeping. Because of that, Yuna had yet to thank Celiastina directly.
It was said that on that day Celiastina had kneeled in front of the sleeping Yuna and did nothing but offer prayers without moving. It was like she didn’t hear those around her suggest taking a small break and she didn’t move like that for nearly half a day.
In addition, it seemed that Asyut also watched over the two of them by Celiastina’s side. What a blessing it must be to have the country’s First Holy Knight and Lady Saint pray to that extent. Her father, Rendo, said that over and over again and her mother, Madela, smiled widely beside him.
Like that, today was the fifth day since she woke up.
Finally, Yuna broke out of the state of constantly battling sleepiness, got out of bed, and recovered to the degree where it wasn’t a problem to walk around her room for a little bit. And then, at this time, it seemed that nostalgic faces gradually came to visit Yuna.
The first who showed their faces were Aeneas and Neisan together.
For Yuna, who was in a situation where she was generally asleep all the time, it was embarrassing in various ways for men around her age to visit her out of concern, but when she saw both their faces that thought was blown out of her mind in an instant.
Yuna knew that her present self was the same as a stranger to them. But still, she wasn’t able to suppress the joy that welled up. When she called the names of these two nostalgic men in a teary voice, Aeneas in particular crumbled to his knees on the spot. “I thought I wouldn’t ever see you again” he said and his voice trembled horribly. Aeneas stifled his sobs like that for a long time, unable to raise his lowered head. Neisan patted his back but abruptly turned to face Yuna and said “I finally managed to meet you” along with a smile.
Following that, the next ones to come were Nasha and Mislee.
At the beginning, when Nasha entered the room, she had a deeply pensive expression but that suddenly twisted hard and large drops of tears began to fall from both eyes. And then she ran to Yuna like that and hugged her.
Yuna was startled for a moment but then something burst in her chest right after. When she squeezed Nasha back tightly, she felt Nasha’s feelings convey themselves to her painfully. Nasha, she called out that name and hugged her harder and harder. And then the two of them cried their eyes out. Like children, they cried and cried and cried. Mislee simply remained quiet and comforted the two of them. When she noticed the sensation of someone gently stroking her back, Yuna cried even more.
Some time after that Siegcrest also came.
Even at this time, his carefree and easygoing attitude was unchanged. And then he said straight out “You’re the exact image of the Celia I know” when no one else had touched on her appearance. His carefreeness was extremely comfortable to Yuna.
For a period he rambled on about things of little concern up to now and then, at the end, muttered meaningfully “Asyut still hasn’t come, has he. That guy’s an idiot, really” before leaving the room.
Yes, Asyut hadn’t visited Yuna once.
Yuna didn’t know as to why that was. Asyut looked to be happy at the time she woke up, but maybe now that it was like this he was confused over Yuna who was so different from the Celiastina he knew and so he was avoiding her. She didn’t think he was a person who judged others by their appearances. However, the current Yuna – and even her inside – felt different from who she had been in the past year.
(Because I thought I only had one year left, there was definitely the feeling of needing to do my best.)
Conversely, because she was already basically dead, she was able to give everything she had at everything and really get into things. But, right now, it felt like that spirit was suddenly gone from her. The her in this past year, while it was her, was also still not her in the end. Yuna was aware of that herself and so personally she was also a little afraid to meet Asyut.
She wanted to go and see Asyut right now. But she was scared.
These complicated feelings swirled inside Yuna.
Several more days passed.
Today as well Yuna was in her bed in the room given to her by the royal palace. From there, she gazed absently at the scenery of dusk outside.
Her body was wholly well. It was likely she wouldn’t have any difficulties in returning to a daily life at all anymore. And yet she was passing the time sleeping and waking like this—
(I’m not being honest.)
She wanted to stay like this. Just a little more.
Yuna’s parents were also similarly lodging in a separate room, borrowed from the royal palace. It was supposed to be until Yuna’s health was a little more stabilized, but they probably wanted to return home quickly. During their stay in the royal palace, it seemed like they were helping out in Mislee’s infirmary. According to Nasha, her parents’ knowledge of herbs was useful even in the royal palace.
Each time they came to see Yuna, in their frequent visits, she felt joy but she also couldn’t help but feel the same level of guilt. These days they looked tired somewhere. For her parents, who were commoners through and through, their lives in the royal palace must have been nothing but stifling. Yuna knew that sensation well, because she herself felt that same suffocation when she started to live in the royal palace at the beginning. —Although now she was completely used to the air of the royal palace.
(But I can’t pretend like this forever.)
This royal palace life couldn’t continue on much longer.
Before long, Yuna would leave the royal palace and return to her “everyday” life. Once that happened, she would never again visit the royal palace.
As she was thinking over that at length, the door to the room was knocked on.
“Yuna, I’m coming in.”
The voice of her mother, Madela, was heard through the door.
“I tried baking a cake. Do you feel like eating?”
Yuna’s face brightened in a flash at the sight of her mother opening the door safely and entering with a tray in one hand.
“Wow, it smells great! Of course I can eat it, thank you!”
“I’m worried over whether I baked it well since it’s different from the stove at home.”
In the tray placed on top of the table was a freshly baked fruit tart. It was a favorite of Yuna’s from a young age.
“Can you get up?”
“Mhm, it’s okay. I’m all better already.”
You really are, aren’t you. Lady Celiastina’s miracle is an amazing thing.”
Madela sat down beside Yuna, who slipped out from bed to sit in a chair, and stroked her hair tenderly.
“That’s true. I think so too.”
“You need to say your thanks to Lady Celiastina and Lord Asyut. They haven’t visited this room, have they?”
Yuna gave a small nod. Celiastina and Asyut; they were both in the same royal palace but she hadn’t met them yet.
(Even though they’re right there.)
Because Celiastina’s health wasn’t perfect like Yuna, she didn’t think Celiastina would come and so that couldn’t be helped. But what about Asyut? Even though she knew it was selfish of her, there was a part of her that was expecting him to come visit her out of concern.
“Yuna, what’s wrong?”
When Yuna brought back her drifting consciousness, Madela was peering at her in concern.
“You look like you’re in pain somewhere. Do you feel sick?”
“N-No, sorry, I’m fine. It’s nothing.”
Yuna shook her head in a hurry and to gloss things over she carried a piece of Madela’s homemade cake to her mouth. It was a hot, very sweet, and nostalgic flavor. A warmth gradually soaked into her body.
“That’s good then, but if you feel even a little strange please call someone immediately, okay? I’m asking you.”
“Yes, I’ll take care.”
“Then I’m going to help Mislee in the infirmary. I’ll come to see you again.”
When Yuna nodded while moving her fork to her mouth, Madela finally smiled with relief and left the room.
Yuna turned her eyes to look outside the window while she listened to the footsteps of her mother grow distant. This room, which wasn’t that from Celiastina’s room, had a view that wasn’t changed much from before.
(The flower garden is pretty.)
Was it possible that Celiastina was also looking at the same scenery right now?
“Yuna, may I intrude?”
In that moment, there was a visitor to her room with a timing like they swapped out with her mother, Madela. It was Linus.
“Ah, yes, please come in.”
When she thought about it, she hadn’t seen him since that time she woke up. Letters inquiring about her condition had been dropped several times though, so she didn’t feel like it had been a while… It wasn’t because she was only thinking about Asyut… is what she thought.
“Mm, there’s a nice smell.”
“Ah, sorry for being in the middle of eating.”
“No, don’t mind that. I’m the one who came to visit abruptly.”
Linus stopped Yuna, who stood up, with a hand and then seated himself opposite of her.
“I’m glad you seem to be healthy beyond expectations. You have more than enough of an appetite as well.”
Yuna turned bright red at Linus’ wide smile.
“I apologize for not coming by to see you. A lot of work about Celiastina piled up, you see. But I did think that I should see you as soon as possible.”
Yes, Linus nodded without a break in his calm expression.
“Um, did something happen to Celiastina? Is her health…”
“There are no problems with respect to her condition, so do not worry. It’s not that, but various things related to dealing with her future. Celia is to live in the Priest Tower henceforth. I say to live but, in actuality, she’s already been doing that for quite some time.”
“Huh? Celiastina isn’t in her own room in the royal palace right now?”
“No, currently her room is the uppermost floor of the Priest Tower. A sacred place closest to God.”
The Priest Tower. Yuna also knew that place for what it was. It was also a place where she once confronted the priestess, Yodel. It was protected firmly by the priests and a terribly closed place, as if others were not allowed near—.
“Why is Celiastina there?”
“Because she desired that. Celia intends to spend her future life secluded in the tower and praying to God.”
“What do you mean s-secluded!?”
Yuna shot up from her chair with a force that knocked it over.
“She won’t be able to come out of there anymore? She won’t see everyone either? She’s going to spend the rest of her life just praying to God?”
“… Yes, you’re right. Exactly that. Celiastina is thinking that this is all the atonement a saint dyed in sins can do.”
Linus, who also stood up, placed his right hand on Yuna’s shoulder and spoke each word slowly as if to calm her. His warmth, which was transmitted from the palm of his hand, managed to soothe Yuna’s heart. But still, she couldn’t accept that at all.
“You won’t be able to see her anymore either, Linus?”
“I am her guardian, so I will have chances to see her from here on as well.”
“… And Asyut?”
Linus clasped his hands together loosely.
“Celia and Asyut’s engagement was officially broken off just a few days ago. Celia plans to become a bride of God on her twentieth birthday, which is coming soon. With that, she won’t be coming out of the Priest Tower in the future.”
“For the marriage with Asyut to be cancelled… Then, Asyut won’t be the First Holy Knight anymore?”
“No, that isn’t the case since the duties of the First Holy Knight isn’t just to be the marriage partner of the saint. According to the announcement of the king’s aides, it seems Asyut will continue to serve the country in the future with no changes. Well, that being said, it may be a situation that is still unknown in the future.”
This time Yuna wasn’t able to raise her lowered head.
She had thought that everyone had gradually seen the light of hope, raised their head to accept that light, and faced forward and began to walk in their own way.
Why was God still bestowing a trial on them?
“Yuna, there is no need to pity Celia. Because she hasn’t thrown out her life in the future.”
It took all Yuna had to suppress the emotions that seemed like they would run rampant again.
“If she was atoning for the mistakes she committed there should be other ways of doing that, right? She could run around to many places, raise her voice, and work hard to make a world where another saint like her will never appear again, or something.”
“That’s true. That is also one road.”
“I want her to laugh more, cry more, and do more things from here. I want her to live to the best of her ability.”
She knew that she was pushing her own thoughts too much onto Celiastina. Celiastina had committed unforgivable sins. It would be difficult for her to obtain happiness as a normal woman in the future.
But still, even if her mind understood her heart couldn’t accept it. Because she had spent the past year, closer than anyone else, together with Celiastina.
She wanted Celiastina to be happy.
“You really are a gentle girl, Yuna.”
Linus seemed to guess everything that Yuna was trying to say.
“Certainly, there are countless of choices. However, this is what Celiastina herself has chosen. I think that surely this is the best choice for that girl.”
“But! Celiastina’s been hurting all this time. So, from here, I think she should experience happy and fun things even while atoning for her sins.”
“I believe she already has salvation in herself.”
Linus looked directly at Yuna.
“Celia had a very bright and refreshed face. She’s already freed from the darkness of her heart. I think what Celia has been searching for all this time, more than anything else, was that ‘salvation’. An irreplaceable ‘salvation’ over any kind of happiness or enjoyment.”
“Please, I’d like you to understand. That Celia is certainly happy right now.”
Celiastina’s salvation was already inside her. She was certainly happy—.
Faintly, she felt like she understood what Linus meant. And that a conventional happiness decided by other people wasn’t “happiness”.
“Linus, I can’t agree with this in the end. —I’m going to see Celiastina!”
She wanted to hear the words of Celiastina herself.
Yuna shook off Linus’ restraint and rushed out of the room.
She ran desperately through a long corridor.
It was probably because she was moving her body for the first time in a while that she tripped over her legs and couldn’t run well, but she didn’t feel that out of breath. She remembered the path to the tower clearly. This was a place where she spent her past year.
There were many servants who turned to look at the running Yuna with a surprised expression, but no one reproved her. There were few people who were familiar with Yuna’s own appearance. It helped that the sleep-wear she wore was close to simple clothes and she must have been judged to be a servant or something.
She went outside the building while losing her breath.
The sky was dyed bright red and it was almost ominous. Please, don’t let the sun set. For some reason, Yuna frantically thought that. If the sun set and night came then she felt like she could never bring back Celiastina again.
The tall Priest Tower approached before her eyes.
There was no sign of life in the surroundings. It felt like this area was all the more quieter than the time she visited this place before. It was like something had fallen out and it was somewhat gloomy and sad.
She sprang to the door of the tower. The solid door, which was locked, did not allow Yuna’s entry stubbornly. She tried pounding on the door violently, but there was absolutely no response from inside.
Mumbling that weakly, Yuna took several steps back and looked up to the tip of the tower, which was tinged with a red shadow, uncaring of the pain in her neck.
“Why, why, Celiastina.”
Let’s live together. Even if everyone in the world says they won’t forgive you, I want to live with you. Laughing, crying, I want to live like that in the same way, even if the place we live in is different.
The tears that appeared did not fall.
Because there was something that skimmed Yuna’s cheeks before her tears.
Noticing that, Yuna’s eyes widened. Fluttering down from the sky were several— petals.
Yuna picked up the petals fallen on the ground in a sluggish motion.
They were small, pale pink petals.
Asiatic jasmine flowers.
Yuna raised her head again. She stared hard at the top of the tower, but she couldn’t see the figure of a person. The petals fluttering down had already stopped.
But the petals in her hand hadn’t disappeared.
Celiastina’s emotions, strong to the point of pain, were suddenly sent directly into Yuna’s chest.
I’m really, really happy. So happy that I don’t need anything else anymore—.
She felt like she heard Celiastina’s voice.
In the back of her eyelids she could see Celiastina’s figure with a gentle smile that seemed to surround her.
Yuna called out her name. And she also heard the voice that responded.
I’m listening, I hear you, Celiastina.
Yuna, thank you for all you’ve done for me.
But salvation is already inside me.
You gifted me an irreplaceable salvation over any kind of happiness or enjoyment—.
That’s why I’m already happy.
I’m happy, Yuna.
Linus’ words changed into Celiastina’s words.
Yuna continued to look up desperately at the tower.
She gripped the petals hard.
Celiastina’s warmth gradually spread through the petals to both of Yuna’s hands.
(I was saved in the same way.)
So that the gentle breeze wouldn’t sweep away the petals she closed her fingers tightly.
(That’s why, from here on, I’m going to face forward and walk too.)
Celiastina, watch me.
Because I’m going to live my life to the fullest too.
Yuna, who stood still in that spot until the sun completely set, noticed that the wind was starting to turn cold and finally began to head to her room in the royal palace. Before she knew it, her body had become completely chilled. Only the hand that was gripping the flower petals retained warmth.
Her heart was still a mess. She definitely heard Celiastina’s voice and her own voice, which reached Celiastina like a shout, echoed again and again in her heart. It was like something was overflowing and it took all she had to keep it in her chest. As she walked towards her room with an unsteady gait, it was mostly an unconscious act.
In a courtyard on her way back, Yuna discovered a shadow waiting for her.
When his name was called, that handsome profile, with his back leaned against a lamppost, turned her way.
It had been a really long time since she said Asyut’s name. And this voice certainly reached him.
Somehow that fact didn’t seem to be a real thing.
Just about everything felt indistinct and unsteady. How much of this was real? How much of it a dream?
“I heard from Lord Linus that you headed to the Priest Tower.”
“I see. And so you came to see me? I’m sorry, I’m always doing whatever I want.”
Strangely enough, even though she felt a sensation like she was floating, Yuna answered calmly.
Aah— but, in the end, Asyut came for her like this, huh.
At any time. Even if her appearance changed.
“How is your health?”
“I’m okay now. Thank you.”
“During the time you were resting in your room, I thought to go and see you.”
“But you were busy, right? I understand so don’t worry about it.”
In truth, she had been really sad but she said that understanding line instead.
“Certainly— this country is changing greatly, at this very moment. There were various things I had to do before I saw you.”
“That’s right, huh. Since you’re the First Holy Knight of the country, Asyut.”
Asyut showed an ambiguous smile, but she could tell that even in this darkness. And then he slowly walked over to her. When he stood equal to her, Yuna noticed that he was taller than she thought and felt extremely nervous. Ah, that’s right, it was because her current self was a little smaller than when she was Celiastina and so the difference between Asyut had expanded.
“Were you able to meet with Lady Celiastina?”
“… No, I couldn’t. But.”
Yuna quietly held out the asiatic jasmine petals, which were held in the palm of her hand, to Asyut.
“Celiastina’s feelings were sent to me properly. It made me think that I also have to face forward and do my best in the future.”
She would leave the royal palace and walk her life as Yuna.
Though with Asyut— she would have to leave him.
Yuna’s shoulders trembled when her name was called without warning.
“May we speak a little more like this?”
Asyut’s eyes, which were lit by the lamp, stood out against the dark night where the sun had completely set. Even though they were the same black color, she felt like there was a deep glimmer in the black he had.
“Ah, sure, then why don’t we sit and talk?”
The two sat down like that on the bench in the courtyard. Yuna shivered faintly at the cool sensation of the stone. Come to think of it, she had rushed out in her sleep-wear.
Asyut draped the cloak he held in his hands over Yuna’s shoulders. He must have gone out of his way to bring this so that Yuna’s body wouldn’t get cold. The moment she was surrounded by that warmth, her heart was warmed as if a fire was lit. And yet, at the same time there was a pain as if she was being squeezed tightly.
“… Um, Asyut, thank you very much for everything this time.”
Once again, Yuna mumbled this hesitantly.
“Please, you do not have to speak so politely. Be the same as you were before.”
“R-Right. That’s right, sorry. It’s just, if you think about it, I’m no longer Celiastina so I was wondering if it was really alright.”
“Your appearance or name doesn’t matter.”
Asyut was kind. Right now, Yuna hadn’t lost just her appearance and name but also many other things. She shouldn’t have the qualifications anymore for him to talk to her in a gentle voice like this.
“That reminds me, I heard about all the things that happened while I was sleeping from everyone.”
Yuna pulled herself together and faced Asyut again.
“To protect me while I was sleeping, help was borrowed from the anti-saint faction people too, huh. Ghada and Milifaire too.”
“I haven’t met them since I woke up. Are they no longer in the royal palace?”
“Correct, since they have already been acquitted. There is the royal palace’s surveillance, but each and every one of them are living their own lives. Once the structure of the royal palace is arranged, Ghada and others are to assume official positions in the royal palace though.”
“It seems she doesn’t intend to return to the royal palace ever again. However, she is not cutting relationships with that. I believe it will take time until Milifaire and I both understand each other, but I plan to perserve with that. We will have as much time as we need from here on, after all.”
Yuna looked up at the night sky. The navy blue of the night sky was without clouds and the flickering and blinking stars were spread out everywhere.
“I’m going to work hard from here on too.”
Yuna said that while staring at the sky. Asyut looked at the side of Yuna’s face in silence.
“During the time I spent as Celiastina, I thought I only had one year left and so I did my best, frantically and desperately. But from here on, I’m going to do my best as Yuna. —I’m going to try walking with all that I have in my own way, in a life where the end hasn’t been decided. So that if a time comes when I meet you again, Asyut, I can raise my head up high and say that.”
Before she noticed, she spun her words as if she was being hurried by something.
Aah, that was because the time of their separation was approaching. Yuna would walk from now on in a daily life without Asyut.
That was a fact that squeezed her heart horribly.
Asyut said Yuna’s name again as if to interrupt her.
It was a very soft and warm voice.
Yuna snapped her mouth shut and turned her face to Asyut, who was sitting beside her. Their eyes met and she couldn’t move, as if his gaze was pinning her.
“Once your feelings have settled…”
Asyut slowly said his words, one by one, like he was reflecting upon them.
“—May I come for you?”
Yuna looked up at Asyut beside her, eyes wide.
“You’re the only one for me. Like I thought, I can’t give you up.”
“I want you to be with me.”
—There was a shock like her head was struck hard.
For an instant, everything went white in front of her eyes.
She couldn’t think anything. She couldn’t understand the meaning of his words.
What did Asyut say just now?
Asyut grasped Yuna’s hands tightly as she received his gaze, dumbfounded. Her fingers, which were held to the point of pain, were covered in a gradual, dull numbness.
“I will not quit being the First Holy Knight. In this royal palace, I’ve decided to fight that which needs to be fought and to become everyone’s support… You have your own life. Perhaps I should not involve you in my intentions. But, however, I cannot do that. In the end, I cannot think of a future without you.”
Asyut whispered even further to Yuna, who had forgotten even to blink.
“Please, I pray that you will nod.”
She had to say something. Something… she had to say something.
Even though she knew that she couldn’t move.
“I lost you once in that courtyard in the infirmary. Now that I’ve finally regained you, I won’t lose you again.”
—In that moment, in place of words, large tears dropped down.
By the time she noticed, Yuna was crying.
One drop, and then another drop. Drops of tears, which wouldn’t stop, trailed down her cheeks.
No, this wasn’t the place to cry.
She was always crying during the most important times like this.
“I’m… I’m not Celiastina anymore.”
“I’m just… a village girl. I don’t have anything. I can’t stand beside you.”
“I don’t need anything. As long as you are here.”
“The royal palace is definitely going to object.”
“I was able to obtain consent at the country’s assembly. —Today, at last.”
“But Celiastina’s decided to live by herself.”
“I understand that you are suffering from that. But still, I cannot give up.”
“It’s impossible. When I think about Celiastina’s feelings.”
“… I wish to hear your feelings.”
“Please, don’t say that. It’s impossible.”
“If right now is impossible then I will wait. If you— if there is even the slightest possibility you will accept me.”
Yuna shook her head single-mindedly. She couldn’t nod because this place wasn’t the place she should stay. Just because Celiastina had left the place she belonged in until now didn’t mean she could settle in. She hadn’t spent all her time until now with that intention.
“Asyut, you’re going to meet a lot of people in the future. So—“
“You must know, don’t you. That no matter the people I encounter, you’re the only one for me.”
Stop. Don’t create a reason for me to stand beside you like that.
Various thoughts ran through her head and her mind was a complete mess.
But even amongst that— whether she wanted to or not, there was a part of her that was drawn by Asyut’s words.
She wanted to nod. She wanted to accept Asyut’s proposal.
(I just want to stay beside Asyut.)
Her feelings were just that.
But she couldn’t nod. Because that would be a betrayal. —Ah, but to who?
“Do you remember my words? That everything about me started when I met you.”
Yuna nodded with a face messy with tears.
“I remember. But.”
“After you disappeared, like I thought, my world was returned to pitch darkness. I don’t want to return to that dark world anymore.”
Asyut’s voice resounded with a terrrible sincerity.
“That’s why I want you by my side.”
—This moment right now, where she was by his side like this, she knew it was a tremendous miracle.
Miracles didn’t last forever. They brought about a momentary light, a fleeting thing that would disappear soon. That was precisely why they were so precious and beloved.
Yes, she should know that but…
If she encountered a miracle that she couldn’t lose no matter what…
If she found a miracle that she absolutely couldn’t give up on…
(What should I do?)
Yuna asked her own heart.
(Is it alright for me to take that hand? But.)
“You do not have to say anything right now. Only, please tell me your feelings. Celiastina’s circumstances, both of our positions, none of that matters. Just your personal feelings. —Yuna.”
Asyut called her name once more.
Yuna grabbed back Asyut’s hands.