Re:Zero: Another Memory Snow – Chapter 5: Another Memory Snow / Felt Camp

“――”

The instant she advanced, Felt directed her gaze to the left as she pitched her body to the right.

Throwing her opponent off balance with her misleading gaze, Felt dived in the opposite direction. Felt wouldn’t need to use these sorts of tricks against just anyone, but from what she’d experienced thus far, she absolutely needed such tricks against highly skilled fellows.

And this especially applied to the opponent before her, she would not hesitate in the slightest to throw everything she had at him.

“――”

Felt’s little trick caused the young man whose eyes seemed to contain the skies themselves to purse his lips. Seeing this out of the corner of her eye, a smile of satisfaction manifested at the edges of Felt’s mouth as she advanced.

She would make it, she had done it, she had won, she had broken through, such phrases assuring her of her victory continually flashed through her mind.

Trampling the red carpet, she immediately dashed forward to make this assurance a reality―

“―Felt-sama.”

“Dawaaa―?!”

The man she thought she had outwitted and left behind suddenly appeared before her, causing her to scream.

The next instant, with her eyes still widened, a light impact to her legs swept her off her feet and sent her small body flying upwards with unexpected speed and force. This impact that seemed to cause heaven and earth to turn over made Felt imagine the sight of herself slamming into the floor. But no matter how long she waited, the collision she expected never came.

This was only natural. The reason being―

“Are you alright? I hope you have not bitten your tongue or anything of the sort.”

The red-haired young man whose blue eyes were staring at her from up close. There was hardly any distance at all between their faces. They were so close they could feel each other’s breaths.

This too was only natural, for Felt was at present in the young man’s arms. To put it in simpler terms, he was carrying her.

Realizing what kind of situation she was in, Felt’s mood immediately worsened. Narrowing her eyes in dissatisfaction and biting her lip with displeasure, she growled angrily which caused the young man to lower his brow and smile bitterly.

“Your present attitude would suggest that your tongue is quite alright.”

“Hmph! Thank you so much for worrying about me. Thanks to the sense of defeat you so elegantly carved into me, I haven’t sustained the slightest injury. Damn it! What a cheap trick, acting like I managed to take you by surprise.”

Ignoring the fact that she was using cheap tricks herself, Felt crossed her arms and turned her face away from him. The young man maintained his bitter smile in response to this unfriendly attitude of hers,

“No, I do apologize if I have caused you to misunderstand. Your distraction this time was magnificent. However, moving in the opposite direction of one’s gaze is a rather standard tactic in itself, due to which…”

“Don’t just advise me so leisurely! Let me tell you, this is a serious match between you and me! You’re gonna regret it if you take me too lightly, Reinhard!”

Saying this, Felt thrust her finger into the man ― Reinhard Van Astrea’s face which was right before her as she boldly displayed what a sore loser she was.

This little contest between Felt and Reinhard had been going on for about a month now.

―Ever since that incident at the loot house in the slums, Felt had been living a life of confinement, robbed of her free will ever since Reinhard captured her.

However, it was not so constrained a life as these words would suggest, she was not cuffed and could freely change her clothes, she could eat as she pleased and take her baths whenever, speaking in practical terms her environment was rather hospitable. Even Felt thought that if she no longer had any attachments to the outside, perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad to just indulge in this life to the fullest.

But she did have such attachments. Reasons she had to be outside and not here.

“That’s why I’m going to sneak past you and bid farewell to this mansion. Once I do that, you can no longer chase after me. Surely you haven’t forgotten.”

“Of course not. Therefore, I too shall endeavor to keep a watchful eye on you.”

Reinhard’s response to Felt’s caustic words was no exaggeration, his declaration was entirely sincere.

In truth, Felt had already tried to escape Reinhard’s mansion countless times over this past month, and he had foiled her attempts every single time. To attempt to count how many times this had occurred would be a fool’s errand.

It wasn’t as if she was always aiming for a direct confrontation with Reinhard. She would in fact use any means necessary to avoid him such as aiming for when he was going out, or going to bed.

“But despite that you somehow always show up right when I try to escape… You damned monster.”

“Even I find such a manner of speaking hurtful. In addition, please allow me to explain one other thing. It would seem that you believe that I used an underhanded trick just now, but that is a misunderstanding.”

“Aah?”

“My surprise was genuine. But what caused that surprise was not your actions, Felt-sama…”

Pausing there, Reinhard turned around, to the hallway’s window that was behind him. Felt who was in his arms also naturally ended up facing it and thus ended up having to confirm what had entered her line of sight.

Thus, in Reinhard’s arms, the sight Felt found before her was―

“― It was the snow.”

The scene of powdery white snow gently dancing down onto the capital.

2

“It is not as if the capital never sees snowfall, but this is a rather unusual sight, is it not.”

Felt’s eyes were fixed on the sky, and Reinhard who was gazing upon the same sky said this to her in a deeply moved voice. His voice contained no small amount of admiration which caused Felt’s lips to warp.

“What’s with that. Looks like the peerless Sword Saint-sama is getting pretty excited over a bit of snow.”

“I am not so joyful as all that. If the snow were to accumulate to an excessive extent, the capital’s functions would be affected as well. There is also the concern that this is very clearly not a natural phenomenon, however…”

“However?”

“I do not sense the presence of any malice in this sky. That being the case, I was thinking that at least for now, it would not be so bad to simply think of it as a beautiful snowscape.”

With an expression that looked like a bashful smile, Reinhard explained what he was feeling. Staring at this expression of his, Felt felt as though she was seeing something unusual.

In order to improve her chances of victory in their contest, Felt had spent a lot of time observing him over this past month, a fact she took pride in. Of course, since this was his home, she could on a rather frequent basis see him in a more relaxed state, in both mind and body, than he would be outside, however,

“Wipe that dopey look off your face, damn it.”

Thus, Felt pushed on his cheek with her palm in a rather irritated mood. She then sighed at Reinhard who offered no resistance.

“To begin with, what’s so great about snow anyway. It’s just a pain, ain’t it.”

“Do you not like snow, Felt-sama?”

“It ain’t at the level of like or dislike. You think people like me who live in the slum’s back alleys could possibly be happy about snow?”

Felt hmphed as if disparaging his rather elegant question.

Obviously, life in the slums was lacking in all sorts of ways. In that sort of environment where you weren’t even sure if you would have a roof or walls to sleep in, something like snowfall was simply hell.

“There was even a time when I ate a whole bunch of snow ‘cause I had nothing else to eat, and ended up getting diarrhea because of it.”

“Was that not due to your own lack of discrimination…”

“Oh shut up already, old man Rom got mad at me too, you know! Quit complaining already! Also, just how long are you planning to hold me, put me down already!”

Flailing around wildly, Felt showed her displeasure in an attempt to get away from Reinhard’s chest. Giving in to her stubborn attitude, Reinhard released her onto the floor.

Patting her knees, Felt clicked her tongue loud enough to be sure Reinhard would hear it.

“I’ll acknowledge that I lost today. Even if I tried to escape now, I doubt the outcome would be very pleasant considering how cold it is out there.”

“Understood. I agree that it would be best to leave it at that. After all, it would be unfortunate if you were to fall sick, and also… No, never mind.”

“――?”

The way he spoke suggested he had something more to say, but Reinhard did not say anything further. She somehow did not feel like interrogating him about it, and so their conversation came to a close.

It would also be irritating if on top of being the loser, she had to spend her time looking at the winner’s face.

Therefore, Felt once again narrowed her eyes at the sight of the snow dancing down outside the window,

“―I hope old man Rom isn’t feeling too cold.”

3

“And so, I once again failed to escape. I’m seriously losing confidence in my legs here…”

“Oh dear, you must not say such things. You must first of all believe in yourself. Or you will not be able to draw forth your power when it is necessary.”

“Even though you’re saying that sort of thing, you’re still one of the people interfering with my escape, granny…”

In this manner, Felt complained with her jaw on the dining room’s table in response to which the old woman laughed pleasantly.

She was a woman who had aged well and gave off an elegant impression. The reason she looked so dignified despite her plain clothing was most likely because of the sharp beauty her figure possessed as she stood up straight, her back’s posture immaculate.

This woman was yet another obstacle to her attempts to escape from Reinhard’s devilish clutches ― She was one half of the old married couple who would impede Felt’s attempts to escape whenever Reinhard wasn’t around. Even though Reinhard called her grandma or whatever, she was clearly no ordinary person considering her movements did not show her age in the slightest. 

Regardless, except for when she interfered with her escapes, she was always kind to Felt and the food she made was also exceptionally delicious due to which Felt could not dislike her, and thus their strange acquaintanceship continued.

It was to the extent that on days on which Felt sincerely admitted defeat, they would get together to have tea and snacks like this.

“However, it would be troublesome if the snow were to fall too heavily. I am getting on in years myself so I would end up worrying you and the young master if I were to fall and get hurt.”

“Don’t just decide on your own that I’d be worried… I would be worried, though!”

“Fufu, I am well aware. Because you are a kind child, Felt-sama.”

Saying this, she gently stroked a sullen Felt’s head without reservation. It felt somewhat ticklish, but it also felt rather pleasant, so Felt would not shake her off of anything.

“It would seem that you are not especially fond of snow, Felt-sama.”

“… Did you hear that from Reinhard? It’s not like I particularly like or dislike the weather, you know? It’s more like asking whether it’s easy to live in or hard to live in, isn’t that right?”

“You might be correct. Certainly, clearing up all of this snow is going to be hard for grandpa, that is troublesome indeed.”

“Snow is unexpectedly heavy when it piles up too, gramps’ll have to be careful about his back.”

“Oh dear, I’ll have you know that he is still plenty strong despite his age. In both body and soul.”

With a hand against her mouth, the old lady giggled. Her voice and expression clearly displayed her overflowing love for her husband.

The image of the old man giving it his all shoveling the snow around the mansion naturally manifested in Felt’s mind.

He could not speak, but he was hale and hearty despite his age. As one would expect, this old man was also one of the people impeding her escape, but just like the old lady Felt could not dislike him.

His aura was of the same sort as Rom’s, he was kind and gentle and just seemed like a good person.

― Felt wasn’t very good at dealing with good people. Or more accurately, she felt that good people were taken advantage of by those around them and she couldn’t bear that sort of environment.

The awareness that she herself was depending on Rom would take this even further.

“Tch.”

“Come now, you must not click your tongue. It makes you appear to be one of poor character.”

“I had a poor upbringing. So it shouldn’t be a problem to overlook something like clicking…”

“Your upbringing has no bearing on the matter. It is a matter of consideration for the other party. Or do you not mind if the old lady you are speaking to is hurt? Aah, how sad, oh dear, oh dear…”

“Oh, come on! That was my bad! I get it! I won’t do it in front of you anymore!”

Felt panicked as the old lady lowered her head and placed her hands against her eyes.

It was not that she actually thought that she would cry over something like this, but it was often the case that such words of lament came from the heart. Felt knew a lot about the elderly. Old man Rom himself did this sort of thing on a regular basis.

“Man, I’m just no match for you, granny. Have you been toying with people that way for a long time or what.”

“Well, that is not the case. I was terribly hard headed when I was young… To the extent that I myself was put off by it. If it weren’t for grandpa, perhaps I never would have married.”

“Heeh, how unexpected. Have you and gramps been working here long?”

“Do you perhaps mean the Astrea family when you say ‘here’? If so, I have been serving the Astrea family from the day I was born. Because that is the lineage I was born into.”

“Hmm, that seems pretty rough too. Then you probably knew Reinhard back when he was a brat, huh?”

With a sour expression, Felt carefully considered the old lady’s feelings from the bottom of her heart. Felt’s words caused the old lady to raise her eyebrows slightly, after which her expression suddenly changed into a relaxed smile.

“Do you dislike the young master, Felt-sama?”

“I certainly do, what about it?”

“Oh my, fufu.”

She was wondering what she was going to say, this instant response from an exasperated Felt made her giggle.

Felt had never seen this sort of reaction from her before.

“What’s so funny, to make you laugh like that.”

“No, no, I was just surprised. Because it is very rare for the young master to be disliked by anyone.”

“Is that so? Although I get the feeling that if you asked around the slums and back alleys, you’d find any number of people who hate the guy?”

In truth, in the slums which had very many people of self-debasing character, merely being born into the commoners’ district would make one an object of envy. To come from a family of knights, and moreover bear such a celebrated title as ‘Sword Saint’ meant that there would be no end to those who bore jealousy or envy towards him.

“None of them could say it to his face. That is why I am certain I can place my trust in you… Just like I trusted that man with Theresia-sama.”

“―?”

She couldn’t quite hear what the old lady had whispered towards the end. But when Felt tilted her head, the old lady shook her head, still smiling,

“Oh dear. When I speak with you, I somehow seem to end up thinking back to my past.”

“Your past, how many decades ago was that?”

“Ah, how cruel… About forty years ago, perhaps?”

“That’s more than double my age…”

It wasn’t as much as old man Rom, but she could definitely feel this lady’s age. Unfortunately for Felt, she was a long ways off from broaching the same territory as them. Of course, they must have in their own way had their immature periods just like Felt.

“I was that way too, you know. I was once but a young maiden in love.”

“―? You’re still a maiden in love, aren’t you. When you’re getting along that well with ol’ gramps, are you not aware of it?”

“… Well now.”

The sight of the old lady’s bashful smile with her cheeks slightly flushed made Felt smile as well.

She would occasionally spot the two of them while they were alone, what an intimate couple they were. Felt didn’t have much experience when it came to this sort of thing, but she thought that that was what a loving couple ought to be like.

Having this pointed out, the old lady nodded any number of times as if reflecting on her joy. Her eyes then narrowed and gently stared at Felt.

“Granny?”

“Felt-sama, did you know that there exists a special flower that only blooms on snowy days?”

Felt thought that this was an extremely sudden change in topic, but she did not point this out and instead offered a straightforward response, “Yeah?”

A flower that only blooms on snowy days, meaning its composition was rather troublesome.

“Flowers only bloom when they have water and sunlight, don’t they? For one to only bloom on snowy days, why does it grow in such a troublesome manner?”

“Why is that, I wonder. It is a flower so elusive that there is doubt as to whether or not it even really exists. All that is known about it is that it is a flower as white as snow itself.”

“… It kinda feels like you’re talking about something really memorable, doesn’t it?”

She couldn’t imagine that the old lady’s explanation came from some passing memory. The old lady nodded when Felt pointed this out, “Yes.”

“After all, I went looking for it several decades ago. With the then head of the Astrea family and his wife… My former master and grandpa came along too.”

“Hmm, sounds like quite the large scale expedition. So, did you manage to find the flower?”

While smiling faintly, the old lady lowered her brow as she shook her head. Felt accepted this answer as if it was only natural. Had she seen in person, she would not describe it as an elusive flower or whatever.

A white flower that would only display its full glory in the snow, one that might not even really exist.

“There was even a legend going around that if you found it, your wish would come true.”

“A wish, huh.”

“Supposing you were to find it, Felt-sama, what do you suppose you would wish for?”

“I guess I’d have that damned Reinhard punished properly and then run away from the mansion with you. And then you’d make me snacks every day.”

“Oh dear, I could not go on living if I were to be separated from grandpa.”

“Then I’ll bring him along too. Reinhard can probably manage this huge place on his own, anyway.”

Someone like Reinhard could probably somehow manage something even if he were left on his own. Perhaps he would even find it easier to live this way.

Considering how he always had to be worried about his surroundings, taking care not to break anything.

“What about you, granny? If you found that flower right now, what would you wish for?”

“My wish, is it…?”

“It’s not like I’m the only one who has the right to make wishes, right?”

On the contrary, Felt couldn’t bring herself to like the idea of entrusting her wishes to such a supernatural force. If merely wishing actually did anything, there wouldn’t be such a thing as slums in this world.

Wishes would not save anyone. Even if that hope kept them alive.

“If my wish could be fulfilled…”

“If it could be fulfilled?”

“… I wanted to try living together with two close friends of mine, that perhaps.”

“――”

“That we would somehow deal with things together. If I could entrust a wish to the past, I would surely wish for something like this…Oh dear. It seems I really am getting old.”

The old lady giggled as she made this joke.

However, to Felt, that fleeting smile of hers somehow seemed to reflect her true feelings.

4

“Felt-sama. Just who I was looking for.”

“Geh.”

Felt welcomed Reinhard who was approaching her with a grimace. In response to her unpleasant expression, Reinhard maintained his ever present smile,

“I have just returned from clearing the snow out front with grandpa. I do not believe that the ground will freeze over, but do take care not to slip when you leap out of the window.”

“Hey, don’t talk as if it’s a given that I’ll be leaping out the window.”

That was an escape method that had already failed several tens of times. Perhaps she would wait and see and try it again when they least expect it, but now was not the time.

“Well then, it’s actually pretty good timing for me as well now that I’ve run into you. The granny’s laid out some warm drinks in the dining room, so bring grandpa with you.”

“Aah, that is a great help. As expected, even my fingers go numb when I clear out the snow.”

“Eh? Is that so? That’s kinda human, huh.”

As she said this, Felt grabbed Reinhard’s hand and confirmed this shocking fact by holding his cold, red fingers. Perhaps one could say it was obvious, but he was a human with blood flowing through him.

“So, how was the snow? It’d probably be a pain later if there’s a whole lot piling up.”

“― You need not worry. Even if it were to pile up to some extent, I believe it will all melt tomorrow.”

“I see, I see. Doesn’t look like there’s anything to worry about then.”

Dropping Reinhard’s hand, Felt ran past him.

If Reinhard and the old man were heading to the dining room, Felt would return to her room for now. There, she would have to refine her escape plans for tomorrow and onwards―

“―Felt-sama.”

“Aah? What.”

Felt turned around in response to this call. Gazing into her red eyes, Reinhard hesitated ever so  slightly,

“― No, it is nothing. Please stay warm in your room.”

“Right. You can go ahead and catch a cold, though. That’d help me out quite a bit.”

Waving her hand apathetically, Felt turned away from Reinhard and returned to her room.

She felt Reinhard’s gaze behind to the very end, just what was it that he wanted to tell her. Felt wasn’t going to and ask about it, she had no obligation to show that much consideration for his feelings.

But since he worked hard clearing out the snow, she would at least forget about escaping for today.

“― What’s this.”

As she thought this, Felt tilted her head when she spotted a certain something in front of the room allotted to her.

Left out in the hallway, in front of her room, was a single white flower in a small vase. She had never seen it before, but she could tell at a glance who had given it to her.

“That guy, I was wondering what he wanted to say, so this was it.”

Her lips curved as she wondered if this was some form of harassment, but she immediately discarded that thought. Reinhard probably had no intention of harassing her. He probably just found a pretty flower and wanted to share that feeling with her.

Felt sighed at his behavior following his return from clearing out the snow as she picked up the vase.

“But even so, that’s a crazy coincidence, huh. I was just talking to granny about this and here it is, a white flower.”

This flower he went and found somewhere bloomed fleetingly yet beautifully, its petals possessed the power to make even Felt who had no interest in flowers think that it was beautiful.

As expected, she couldn’t bear to throw away such a lovely flower just because Reinhard was the one who gave it to her. She decided that she would place it on her windowsill and leave it at that.

“Maybe it really is that snow flower granny was talking about. If that really is the case…”

Entering her room and placing the vase on the windowsill, Felt made a wish to the white petals.

If this really was the snow flower that could grant wishes―

“― Make it so that granny can see nice dreams with her friends.”

Felt said this with a smile as she touched the flower’s white petals.

―To continue a bit further, the snow that covered the capital on this day melted away and disappeared completely the afternoon of the next day.

Even the white flower in Felt’s room soon withered away, perhaps she had handled it poorly.

However, the morning after the snowfall, granny was unusually cheerful as she welcomed Felt, and her breakfast that day was even grander than usual.

She did not ask why she was in such a good mood. Because Felt had already completely forgotten about the wish she had made to the flower yesterday. ― She merely gazed upon granny’s joy, and gramps who was delighted when he saw this.

Carried by this good mood she once again challenged Reinhard, and once again experienced crushing defeat.

Even the snowfall had not produced any particular change in Felt’s life of confinement ― This was merely one page, a moment of the constrained, flurried life she lived until the royal selection finally began.

<END>

< Previous Chapter ‎‎Side Stories

Re:Zero: Another Memory Snow – Chapter 4: Another Memory Snow / Priscilla Camp

―He was unable to take his eyes off the profile of the woman who was gazing out of her window.

“――”

Her crimson eyes housed a little surprise, and he noticed that her pink lips emitted some kind of sound.

The woman then stood up in an exceedingly refined manner, and approached the window her beautiful face was directed at.

She freely wore a dress that boldly exposed her chest and back. Forget extraordinary beauty, one would need beauty two or three levels beyond ordinary to properly wear such a dress. The woman effortlessly flaunted this dress, easily transcending these conditions available to only a special few by five levels as she reached out with her fair, slender hand and opened the room’s window.

The moment she did, a refreshing breeze blew into the room and scattered the bundle of papers on her desk, causing them to dance around the room.

Surrounded by this scenery of dancing bits of paper, the woman continued to gaze outside without the slightest movement,

“――”

Her lips moved once more and produced yet another sound of some sort.

It was probably the same sound as last time.  The man whose attention was completely focused on her profile couldn’t quite make out what this sound was―

“Obelisk!”

“― You foolish commoner. Just how many times do you intend to make me repeat myself.”

The next instant, the direct impact to the middle of his forehead caused him to scream as he toppled over backwards. The crimson woman looked down on him with her arms crossed, emphasizing her voluptuous chest―

It was the folding fan that she threw as she turned around that collided with his forehead. The speed and power with which she threw it were no joke, the impact’s penetrating power was such that it might have split the average person’s skull.

Honestly, if it were anyone else taking such a blow, they would almost certainly lose some brain cells.

“Owowow… Just what are you doing all of a sudden, princess. If I weren’t the sort of masked character who always had a helmet on, that would have been a bloodbath just now.”

“Fool. Even I consider my opponents. As if I’d aim for the head if it were anyone besides yourself. If it were Schult in your place, perhaps I would blow on his ear to bring him back to his senses.”

“Oioioi, that’s totally favoritism, isn’t it. Surely even I ought to get a nice, sexy reward now and then. Why am I the only one treated so horribly…”

“It is because you are my jester that I have let you off with this much. If you were some common miscreant, I would have taken your head off. ― Or are you perhaps dissatisfied with your current position?”

“Hehh, what are you saying, princess. You can throw that fan at me whenever you want.”

Shaking his head which had received her attack, he gave her a thumbs up and immediately changed his tune. The crimson woman gave a hmph in response to the man’s rapidly changing attitude.

Seeing this, the man who deemed silence to be unfavorable raised his hand, “By the way,”

“Back to what we were talking about, why did you suddenly whack my head? The room’s got paper scattered all over too, it’s all too sudden, isn’t it?”

“What, so you really were just staring blankly. Nothing about this is sudden or anything. I called to you twice. You were the one who ignored this entirely.”

“… Aah, so back then, that was you calling to me, huh.”

Puzzled by this rather embarrassing situation, he tried to lighten the atmosphere with some fake laughter. Contrary to their color, her crimson eyes were cold like a blade. His strategy failed.

“Although I can’t shake the feeling that even attempting to calm things down was a mistake to begin with considering this appearance of mine.”

“What are you muttering, are you even listening to me, Al?”

“Absolutely, I’m listening, princess.”

Picking up the folding fan that was lying by his feet, the man ― Al approached the woman and handed it to her. 

The part of Al’s head which had been whacked by the folding fan was covered by a black helmet. It was thanks to this defense that his head wasn’t split in two. He was thankful to the one who had given him this helmet, truly thankful.

Setting that aside―

“Well, I’m sorry about ignoring you and all, but what exactly is the matter?”

“What a hopelessly dull man you are. I personally walked to the window and opened it by my own hand… Do try to imagine for what reason I would have done such a thing.”

“… Ventilation, or did you perhaps feel like looking at the sky?”

Neither of these seemed very much like her. But compared to the former, the latter seemed far more likely.

And in truth, the girl nodded in response to his suggestion, “Correct,”

“I came to gaze upon the sky. ― You have a look as well, Al.”

The woman indicated the outside of the window with a movement of her jaw, and Al obediently followed her instruction. Standing by her side, he quietly took a look outside. The view from his helmet was unexpectedly decent. Straining his eyes, he directed his attention up towards the faintly clouded sky―

“―Heeh, what a surprise.”

“Is it not.”

As Al admired the sight, Priscilla who was right next to him nodded as though he had taken the words right out of her mouth.

Immediately after, yet another breeze blew into the room, similar to when she first opened the window. The wind once again wreaked havoc in the room, causing her disarrayed stack of papers to dance through the air once more.

However, there was something else dancing along with these pieces of paper, white, fleeting crystals of water―

“―Out of season snow, this must be someone’s doing, is that not correct?”

With that powdery snow reflected in her crimson eyes, the woman ― Priscilla Barielle murmured joyfully.

To Al, this voice somehow sounded like she was in high spirits.

2

“But even so, isn’t it really rare for it to snow around this area of the kingdom?”

“That is correct! I believe that this hardly ever happens. At the very least, this is my first time seeing snow!”

“First time, it’s at that level, huh. You must be feeling pretty excited then, Schult-chan.

Saying this, Al looked at the pink-haired boy with a gaze as though he was looking at something charming.

The boy’s name was Schult, a chamberlain in training working in Priscilla’s mansion ― Or rather, Priscilla’s page who was something like a cherished pet to her.

The person in question didn’t really care, but the reason Priscilla originally picked him up when she found him on the verge of starvation was because their eyes happened to be the same color.

Priscilla had stated that if this weren’t the case, she most likely would have just ignored him. Even Al understood that she wasn’t trying to hide her embarrassment or anything by saying this, her words simply described the reality of the situation.

Amazingly, despite the various hardships he had experienced until now, Schult did not take any strange turns in life and was growing up to be a nice and wholesome boy, it was adorable. Even Al could see that.

“―? Al-sama, is something the matter? Have I said something strange?”

As Al thought this, his gaze caused Schult who was picking up the scattered papers to tilt his head. Al shrugged his sole arm’s shoulder at the boy who was presently engaged in his usual chores that weren’t even worth discussing.

“No, I was just thinking that it’s adorable how you’re so wholesome. You probably feel the same way, don’t you princess?”

“Do not speak such absurdities, Al. Even supposing he were an infant, it is only natural that he would give his all for my sake. Therefore, Schult’s efforts have no bearing on my evaluation of him. The reason I keep him by my side is only because his appearance and bearing are splendid, nothing more.”

“That was an incredibly roundabout way of putting it, but basically, you just like the way he looks?”

Priscilla who had given this haughty answer hmphed at Al’s simplified explanation. But considering she made no attempt to correct his explanation, it was probably fine to think that it was for the most part accurate.

Despite her attitude, she left the task of cleaning the room to Schult as she sat on the windowsill, idly watching the dancing snow.

“――”

Suddenly, Al realized that he had forgotten to even breathe as he gazed at her profile, captivated.

There was the unusual snowy scenery as well, but to begin with Priscilla’s own beauty was already at a transcendent level on its own. There existed beauty in this world which no paintbrush could reproduce, it would be no exaggeration to say that Priscilla was among such beauty, that was simply a fact.

“Well, that’s basically what my argument amounts to, so please forgive me.”

“I haven’t even said anything and you’re already making excuses for stealing glances at my profile, you truly are an insipid man. Regardless, do not misunderstand me. I am not so narrow-minded as to lose my temper over such a thing.”

“Eh, talk about unexpected. Wouldn’t you be like, your gaze is bothersome, zubaaa or something?”

“It is inevitable that men would experience carnal desires at the sight of my beauty, such is this world. If I were to find fault in this, I would have to behead every man in the world. That in itself would be the height of wastefulness.”

“Mm, that’s some confidence you’ve got. But from someone at your level, I guess those aren’t words to make light of.”

Smiling wryly at her display that was both pompous and magnanimous, Al fiddled with the metal at his helmet’s joint. With this metallic sound behind her, Priscilla continued to gaze at the outside.

It was also difficult to understand just where exactly her interest was directed, that was the sort of woman she was. It was true that they were experiencing some unusual weather, but Al didn’t think that it was the sort of thing you could enjoy looking at for extended periods of time.

“You seem rather passionate about this, princess. Do you have some sort of emotional attachment to snow?”

“It is nothing of the sort. Rather, the issue at hand comes before that… Much like Schult, I too am seeing snow for the first time.”

“Eh? Seriously?”

Her unexpected statement caused Al’s eyes to widen within his helmet. Next to Al, Schult too looked up at Priscilla with an expression of surprise on his cute face.

“This is your first time seeing snow as well, Priscilla-sama! How surprising! But I am also delighted that we are experiencing this together!”

“You do say some cute things, Schult. I shall pat your head.”

“Please go ahead.”

As Schult smiled innocently, Priscilla beckoned him over to her and started stroking his pink, fluffy hair. Al sighed deeply as he watched her hand move.

Perhaps annoyed by this reaction, Priscilla’s crimson eyes narrowed,

“What is it, would you perhaps like to say something?”

“It’s not like I particularly want to say it or anything. I was just thinking about how unpredictable you are. How should I put it, it’s kinda weird to say it like this, but you seemed to be the kind of character who knew everything and could do anything, you know?”

“―Hm. Certainly, there can be no doubt that I am a being not far from such a description.”

“I said it myself, but this is my first time seeing someone who would actually accept the descriptors omniscient and omnipotent.”

Anyway, it was a fact that that was the sort of impression Al had of this woman who was so full of confidence.

It probably was a bit too much to say she knew everything and could do anything after all, but even so, he thought that perhaps Priscilla who had both extensive knowledge and excellent analytical ability had seen all there was to see in this world.

That was exactly why he thought that he of all people would be able to catch her interest.

“So it’s quite the surprise to hear that something like snow is a fresh experience for you. Unexpectedly, it would appear that you’ve never had certain common experiences, princess.”

“While I am certainly curious as to what basis you are using to define the word common, you evidently haven’t put much thought into your statement. Rather, the impression you have of me has unexpectedly roused my interest.”

With her hand still on Schult’s head, Priscilla smiled sweetly at Al’s words. Al’s shoulders trembled slightly, as if someone was running their finger down his spine.

Seeing this out of the corner of her eye, Priscilla once again directed her gaze towards the sky,

“I have seen it any number of times in books, but I had never in my life encountered snow. The sight of white snow descending from the skies was ultimately something I could only imagine.”

Snow descended onto the palm she held out. This snow as ephemeral as grains of sand immediately melted in her palm, becoming ordinary drops of water.

Priscilla hmphed having confirmed this,

“It was not quite as wondrous as I had hoped.”

“Hoping for something wondrous, you just said something pretty damned cute.”

“Fool. Do you not think it disrespectful to describe me as cute. There exist much more fitting words to extol my beauty. Shult, let us hear them.”

“Eh? Y-Yes! Umm, umm… Priscilla-sama is really ‘elegant’ and a ‘beauty’!”

[T/N: These words are in English]

“You’re quite a fast learner. You used those words well.”

Shult turned red in the face as he displayed the knowledge he had only just learned, impressing Al. Priscilla too nodded with satisfaction in response to his efforts.

“Behold, this is the manner in which my servants ought to serve me. Al, you too must exhibit the proper diligence.”

“Alright, understood, I’ll keep that in mind.”

Saluting with his right hand, Al nodded at Priscilla’s words, not taking them too seriously. His attitude was probably completely transparent to Priscilla, but she did not say anything about it.

“Fundamentally speaking, they are no different from raindrops it would seem. Dried up water solidifies atop the clouds, and then it is merely a matter of whether it descends as raindrops or snowflakes. Should it become snowflakes, they cling to one another and descend as snow. And they hence melt and repeat this process.”

“Heeh, you could have fooled me. Was that written in your books as well?”

“When I see something in person, I comprehend it to its core. This does not extend as far as the minute details, but it is for the most part true.“

Seeming bored as she said this, Priscilla pulled her folding fan out of her cleavage. Concealing her mouth by unfolding it, she turned away from the sky and towards Al.

“I told you just moments before. That there can be no doubt that I am a being approaching omniscience and omnipotence.”

“Oh-Ohh, you’re digging that up again, huh. No, I do think that you possess such traits to some extent, but…”

“If so, for what reason did you hold such an impression of mineself? There are of course the beauty and elegance with which I was born as well as my countless other virtues, but among them which was it that stood out most?”

“That’s…”

“Slow. I shall tell you. ― It was my intelligence.”

Al faltered, and Priscilla firmly declared this without waiting for his answer.

She was so overwhelming that he could actually feel some heat, causing him to fall silent and bite his lip. Priscilla shouldn’t have been able to see him do this within his helmet, however, she donned a faint, sadistic smile,

“Intelligence, that is the ability to reason which is all that separates mankind from beasts… There are those who say such things, but I do not agree in the slightest. Even beasts in the wild possess consciousness, they possess the instinct to learn, and they possess a life with which to make use of their knowledge.”

“――”

“Intelligence, it can be said that it is a guide which transcends fetters such as sentiment and bonds, and which determines whether one lives or dies. That being the case, beasts too possess intelligence. There exists no qualitative difference between man and beast, to unconditionally deem them beneath humans goes beyond pride, it is simply laughable.”

“Wooow, that’s an absurd argument in itself.”

“Do not try to gloss over this by acting like a clown, Al. I am asking you a question regarding your principles.”

Al tried to shrug in response to her smile, but he suddenly stopped.

From directly before him, Priscilla’s crimson eyes were fixed on his eyes within his helmet.

“Answer carefully. If it is not the presence of intelligence which separates man from beast, where exactly lies the difference between them? What is it that definitively separates them?

Her gaze made Al feel like his neck was burning. Al’s breath halted, and realized all too late.

―That right now, he had been placed at a crossroads far more extreme than he had imagined.

“――”

Priscilla stopped talking and continued to pierce him with her unchanging gaze.

Having stated her theory, she was now waiting for a rebuttal, her attitude as she did so was as composed as ever, but hidden as its edges were a ferocity and vigor that would occasionally flare up.

They weren’t grand, easily understood emotions. However, they were certainly passionate.

This invisible storm of emotion was thrust into Al’s throat in the form of pressure, questioning what he would do next. If he did not choose his words properly, this pressure would quite literally pierce his throat.

The snowfall and their chit chat relating to it, that was all it took to land him in this situation.

He knew from the very beginning how risky it was to stay by her side, and all of that risk was now gushing forth.

“Where lies the difference between man and beast? What is it that separates me from the likes of you?”

The same words, with a small change midway.

Those words declared that Priscilla and Al were entirely different organisms, and seemed to be a sort of ritual to determine the difference that ought to exist between them, causing him to gulp.

He then moved his heavy tongue, and while swallowing his bitter saliva,

“The difference is, the opportunity to refine oneself.”

“――”

“Even beasts learn the connection between life and death. However, the difference between those who live in the wild where failure means death and we who live in more forgiving environments is the presence of opportunities, and whether or not one can act on them. Even though you were born as a sexy cutie, the reason you seemed to be omniscient and omnipotent…”

“― Good. I shall allow it.”

As Al chose his next words, the sharp sound of her fan shutting suddenly interrupted him.

With this sound came a few words from Priscilla, and in an instant, the pressure bearing down on his entire body dissipated. Immediately realizing that he had forgotten to even breathe, Al let the tension leave his shoulders.

Priscilla’s throat hummed with stifled laughter in response to Al’s grandiose reaction,

“Well, how about it. When pushed into a corner, your intelligence serves its purpose does it not? Predicting the future based on your past experience and your relationship with me, it desperately struggles to avoid the worst case scenario. But then, that is an ability beasts also possess. It does not serve as a difference between man and beast.”

“Your jokes are too harsh, princess… You’d be angry if I said that, huh?”

“Of course.”

Priscilla firmly asserted that she certainly was not joking. This caused Al to heave a truly deep sigh after which he started wiping off his damp back which was covered in cold sweat.

“Unlike beasts, humans have the opportunity to actively expand their knowledge. Humans have methods with which to do so. Simply put, read a book. I was not joking or anything of the sort when I told you to be more diligent.”

“So, you’re basically saying that the omnipotent aura you give off is because you read a lot of books.”

“Not even mineself was perfect at birth. There was quite a bit which I learned from ink and paper. In much the same way that one requires flame and a hammer to forge steel, one also requires writing to refine one’s spirit. If one were to lack either, they would only end up as a failure of a human being.”

“――”

“It is not as though I particularly wish to be surrounded exclusively by that which is beautiful. However, I am not so eccentric as to keep by my side those who would by their own negligence reduce themselves to ugliness.”

“… In other words, you’re telling me that you’re tired of my usual act, so you want me to keep refining new ones?”

“――”

The way Al splendidly simplified it momentarily caused Priscilla’s breath to halt. She then let out a small sigh,

“Haha, hahahaha! Well now, to think you would rephrase my words in such a hackneyed fashion. An act of all things! An act, you say! … Kuku, I see you are unwilling to concede your role as a jester.”

“Aaah, I’m glad I could make you laugh. However, princess, I’ve got a few things I’d like to say too. Although your words were so magnificent I kinda ended up getting convinced myself.”

As Priscilla laughed loudly, Al wracked his brain as he continued.

Carefully, but in a manner that wasn’t completely submissive, while remaining aware of who was at his core―

“I’m not your knight or anything, princess. I’ve sworn allegiance to you as your servant, but there’s no point in expecting anything more from me. That would be too heavy a load for the old man going back beyond the Grand Cascade.”

“Oh? Simply put, you do not intend to do as I say, is that it?”

“I do realize that I’d probably have my head taken off if I said that. That’s why I came up with my own compromise back in that chat about acting.”

Declaring this, Al walked towards Priscilla with determination. Standing close enough to be touched by the crimson woman sitting on the windowsill as she looked at him, he threw out his chest.

“In the end, I’m satisfied being your jester. So I’ll keep amusing you in all sorts of ways so you never get bored, princess.”

“――”

“In exchange, I won’t give up on the things I can’t give up on. That is the compromise between my role as a jester and that stuff about steel bookworms you like so much.”

There was no helping it if she didn’t like this, Al presented his opinion directly.

He didn’t know if Priscilla would fly into a rage or perhaps calmly release her killing intent, but even if that happened, there was no helping it. ― In that case, he just needed to bring her into the territory.

However, it soon turned out that his fears were completely needless.

“Very well.. ― If you are aware of your role as my jester, and possess a clear ‘vision’ of the future, I shall not object. It is only natural to leave gardening to the gardener.”

“… Are you sure?”

“How tedious… Surely you do not wish for me to take your head off by my own hand?”

“Nonono, as if as if as if, no way no way no way.”

Wildly waving his arm, head, and legs, Al pleaded before Priscilla’s suspicious eyes with no objection. What effects this would end up having was a different matter, but for now, it seemed as though Al’s attitude had earned him another day of life.

And in this manner, the conversation between Al and Priscilla reached its conclusion,

“… Buhaaa! I-I-I-I’m past my limit! That was so scary!”

“Woahwoahwoah, Schult-chan?”

With his face completely red, Schult heaved an exaggerated sigh as though he was glad it was finally over. Schult who had endeavored not to interrupt their conversation with a hand over his mouth raised his voice, “Excuse me!”

“The two of you have reconciled, correct? It’s okay now, correct?”

“Ohh, sorry to make you worry. Papa and mama are getting along just fine… Damuhin!”

“Fool, just who are you calling papa and mama.”

The instant he cracked this joke, Al ducked to dodge the sweeping fan strike that was sailing overhead. Al felt as though the top of his helmet had been singed, and Priscilla ignored his fear as she gently raised Schult’s jaw with said fan.

“I forced an unpleasant experience on you, but you endured it wonderfully. I shall personally reward you. What would you like?”

“U-Umm, uhh, can I ask for anything?”

“I shall allow it. Ask for all that you desire.”

“… Then, since it’s snowing and all, I’d like to go outside with you, Priscilla-sama.”

Schult’s face lit up as he announced this in response to Priscilla’s magnanimous words. In response to this, Al who was sitting on the floor nervously looked at Priscilla.

Having seen snow for the first time, Priscilla had expressed a great deal of disappointment. To ask her to walk out there with her servant was―

“Very well. This shall be my first time playing in the snow as well. It could be said that my ‘tension’ is rising.”

“Eh, seriously?! Then why were you in such a bad mood just now?!”

“I was merely explaining one of my principles. Come, let us go, Al. As my jester, you shall amuse me to the fullest even within the snow.”

Priscilla nimbly descended from the windowsill as she said this and turned around with a wave of the hem of her dress. Next to her, Schult stared at Al while smiling brightly.

“Al-sama, it must be fun! Have you ever played in the snow, Al-sama?”

“Playing in the snow, huh.”

Tilting his head in response to Schult’s question, Al took a look outside the window, at the scenery of the faintly accumulating snow. The sight of the area covered in a blanket of snow stimulated old, distant memories―

“Come to think of it, I don’t remember ever playing in the snow either. I’m kind of looking forward to it.”

“That is wonderful! For the three of us to experience this for the first time, it is miraculous!”

“A rather trivial miracle. But I suppose it is only fitting for something so stale as snow.”

As Schult showed his excitement, Priscilla stroked his head and then boldly set forth. Schult hurriedly followed after her, and Al tagged along while fiddling with his helmet.

Midway, Al stopped for a moment. He then looked out of the window, at the snow descending from the sky,

“―I don’t remember ever playing in the snow or anything, after all.”

Muttering this in a voice audible to no one, he continued to follow after the master and servant pair ahead of him

< Previous Chapter ‎‎Next Chapter >

Re:Zero: Another Memory Snow – Chapter 3: Another Memory Snow / Anastasia Camp

”Amazin’! This is amazin’! Just look at it, iss’ amazin’! It’s all white!”

Mimi’s excited voice could be heard from out in the garden..

Boisterously dashing out of the porch, the girl opened the iron gate and started running around.

There was the resounding sound of her footsteps as well as a noise that sounded as though she was hopping on the wall and gate.

The animated nature of the girl known as Mimi was nothing unusual at this point, they could imagine what she was up to without even needing to look.

And since Mimi had taken the initiative to rush outside like this―

“S-sister! It’s dangerous to hop onto places like that! Come on, get down here!”

“Just forget it, brother. There’s no way we can stop her when she’s that excited. More importantly, I believe it would be in our best interest to ensure she does not end up falling.”

“T-Tivey, you’re saying that too…”

Two boys’ voices rushed out, chasing after the noise of her running around. Their exchange couldn’t really be called a discussion since it felt like the conclusion was already decided.

In their voices, one could clearly perceive faintheartedness and resignation just as the contents of their conversation would suggest.

These two voices definitely belonged to Mimi’s two little brothers, Hetaro and Tivey, who were always at the mercy of her innocence. The two brothers had rushed out into the garden in pursuit of their overly energetic elder sister, wracking their brains looking for a way to stop her.

And then―

“Just what is all this commotion about? What’s got Mimi so excited…?”

Yet another person with an entirely different kind of voice cut in.

That was the voice of a young man, retaining a little of the high pitch from before his voice dropped. The young man had come out here to find out what exactly was causing all of this commotion, and was rendered speechless mid-sentence.

His breath seemed to catch for a moment, after which the young man’s lips parted once more,

“W-What is this scenery?! Don’t tell me you lot went and did something… Mugyu!”

“Ohh! Joshua, you suck at dodging! That was a super direct hit!”

His astonished shouting was immediately followed by the sound of him falling onto his behind as he shrieked. He then heard Mimi burst into laughter, and found that Hetaro was at a complete loss, “Aaah”

“W-W-What…”

“Calm down, Joshua. Sturdy yourself. That just now was our sister’s doing. Unfortunately for you, you’re going to get wrapped up in this.”

“Wrapped up in… Eh, Ehh?! H-Hold on a minute!”

The young man ― Joshua desperately called for some restraint in response to this abrupt situation. However, Mimi who prioritized having fun above all else complete ignored him and resumed whatever she was doing with a “Take this!”

Faint sounds rang out consecutively as something rapidly struck the wall and the ground. The three of them desperately ran around trying to escape from this something.

“S-Sister! That’s terrible! That’s so mean!”

“Fuuhahaha! The conditions of a battle are always changing! If you’ve got time to whine, then go ahead and launch a counterattack, Hetaro!”

“Talking is useless, brother. And Joshua, you’re going to be her victim yet again at this rate.”

“T-This, this isn’t why I came out here… Hii!”

Strained shrieks and joyful laughter overlapped, and the area was turned into a battlefield in an instant. The man who was listening to all of this intently smiled as he heard the nearby garden turn into a fierce battleground.

And then, when he took a look outside the window in the direction the voices were coming from, the reason Mimi and the others were frolicking about so joyously gently descended into his field of view.

“Looks like those kids are having the time of their lives, huh.”

As he looked out the window, the woman who was with him casually addressed him.

The owner of this voice was also the owner of this room in which she was at a large desk, attending to her paperwork. In response to her voice, the man returned his gaze to her and nodded, “Yes.”

“If you find them to be a disturbance, I shall head out and warn Mimi and the rest…”

“Aah, it’s fine, it’s fine. I’ve just finished my work myself. I had completely blocked it out while I was working, so it was a bit of a surprise when I suddenly heard it.”

“Is that so. If so, this might surprise you even further.”

Closing one eye in response to the woman’s gentle, elegant smile, the man ― Julius Juukulius directed his refined countenance towards the window.

And when he felt her turn in the same direction, he continued,

“― It is snowing, Anastasia-sama.”

2

Standing up, she walked over to the window and gazed upon the scenery outside it.

Before her, in the garden of the Hoshin company branch office which was serving as Anastasia’s base in the capital, she could see that just as the earlier commotion suggested, Joshua and the three siblings were enjoying themselves as they played in the snow ― Although Joshua and the brothers might object to putting it that way. After all, them playing in the snow essentially amounted to just running away from Mimi as she rapidly formed and threw snowballs endlessly.

It was a problem of sentiment for Hetaro, a problem of pessimism for Tivey, and a problem of endurance for Joshua, due to which they were each unable to launch a counterattack against Mimi and were thus forced to remain on the defensive.

Regardless, this game wasn’t dangerous enough to warrant a scolding, and Mimi and the rest probably weren’t the only ones enjoying themselves in the snowy capital right now.

Even setting aside the fact that this wasn’t the right season, it was quite rare for the capital to see snowfall. Surely most of the capital’s residents would accept that this was an unusual occurrence.

And the way they accepted it would vary from person to person. This place was no exception―

“― Snow? Why’s something so troublesome gotta go and happen…”

In contrast to the tumultuous merriment going on outside, the woman ― Anastasia was extremely troubled.

Possessing wavy, light purple hair, adorned with high quality goods even though these were her work clothes, with her beloved white fox scarf wrapped around her neck, she was a woman whose pale blue-green eyes could see through almost anyone.

Her mutter offered a glimpse at her anguish, causing Julius to smile wryly as he perceived this.

“What’s with that face of yours. Perhaps you have something you’d like to say to me, Julius?”

“No, please do not concern yourself. I was simply relieved that the reaction you had when you heard it was snowing was no different from the image of you I had in my mind.”

“I wonder if I can really be happy about what that implies.”

Alluding to the slight change in his expression, Anastasia pouted in displeasure. Regardless, Julius’ words did not really have any hidden implications or anything.

In truth, Julius really was relieved, and he understood too.

That Anastasia Hoshin, the woman Julius Juukulius had recommended for the royal selection which would decide the next ruler, was this kind of person.

One could only naively feel delight at the mention of snow if they were in a position free of responsibility. If one was aware they were in a higher position, they could not simply receive such news with joy. In order to live up to their responsibilities, they would also have to consider what would happen after the fact, and what secondary effects it would have.

“Anastasia-sama, about this snow…”

“Supposing this snowfall continues with no signs of stopping, I guess I’ll have to devise some ways to cope with it. The company’s transportation fees and storage charges are nothing to sneeze at, you know. We do have reserves for winter stored in each location, but perhaps it would be ideal to check out the big cities at least.”

“――”

Linking her hands in front of her chest, Anastasia’s expression turned serious as she thought about how she ought to deal with the snow. He couldn’t fully read how the abacus of thoughts in her head was moving, but even that part served as more than enough proof that she was qualified to compete for the throne.

“The items in demand will probably change too, the sun’s whims sure are troublesome… Julius, there’s that expression again. Really, what exactly is the matter?”

Julius was staring intently at Anastasia’s face as she agonized over how to best deal with the situation, causing her to frown at him. She felt around her face with her hands and,

“Could it perhaps be that I have some ink splashed on my face? That would be quite embarrassing.”

“No, your face bears not a single blemish. Please be at ease.”

“The way you put it… Well, if that’s the case, what is it that you want to say?”

With a small sigh, Anastasia urged Julius to continue. In response, Julius bowed theatrically and,

“This is somewhat belated, but I shall now offer my report. I had one of my buds, Ia, examine the condition of the sky. According to her, this snow will not last long.”

“Can a quasi-spirit really know that sort of thing?”

“It would seem that this time is an exception. It appears that this snowfall is the work of a Great Spirit ― Of course, you can rest assured that they did not have malicious intent in doing so, and that this is nothing to worry about.”

Saying this, Julius nimbly raised his right arm and announced the contributions of the faint red glow that was perched on it ― His contracted quasi-spirit, Ia.

The noble spirit which had accomplished its task somehow seemed to be proud as it brightened its red glow. Seeing this, Anastasia nodded several times, “I see, I see.”

“If you’re saying all of that, then it’s probably no big deal after all, what a relief. But anyway, quasi-spirits sure are convenient, huh. Can they comprehend the sun’s mood at any given time?”

“No, as I just said, this time was an exception. Although, this does not apply if it is a spirit changing the weather.”

“I see. That’s unfortunate. If it were possible to determine the sun’s temperament, that could become a business in its own right…”

As expected of a utilitarian like Anastasia, she wouldn’t give up her pursuit of profit even when it came to the work of a quasi-spirit. Standing next to Julius who was smiling wryly at this attitude of hers, she looked towards the window,

“If it’s not going to be a problem, then perhaps this snow is actually pretty pleasant. Although snow isn’t really something you see in Kararagi…”

“In Lugunica as well, it is rare for the capital to see any snowfall. Of course it would be a different matter in the territories closer to the Holy Kingdom, but it is certainly unusual.”

“And if it were the Vollachian Empire in the south, there probably wouldn’t be any snow in a lifetime.”

The Vollachian Empire Anastasia spoke of had high temperatures throughout the year, and it was known for its exceptionally clear climate barring the rainy season. Most of its populace would probably never see snow in their lives unless they left the empire.

“But even snow can be quite the threat in large enough quantities. Have you ever been to the Holy Kingdom of Gusteco, Anastasia-sama?”

“Well, as far as the Albis river goes. Any further would be too harsh for a delicate maiden such as myself, after all.”

Anastasia giggled with a hand against her mouth. However, Julius nodded deeply in response and spoke, “How very discerning of you.”

“Given your current position, perhaps the opportunity might someday come, please do take care when it does. The terrain of Gusteco eats away at those of other lands more than one would imagine.”

“You’re once again speaking in a manner filled with genuine emotion. What, do you have a story like that?”

“… This is a story passed down from when my grandfather was part of the royal knights.”

Giving in to Anastasia’s deeply curious eyes, Julius revealed a story which had been passed down from the era in which his grandfather had been part of the royal knights.

“This is a tale of several decades ago, when the Kingdom of Lugunica was under heavy pressure due to the precarious situation it was in with the Holy Kingdom of Gusteco and the Vollachian Empire. The Kingdom’s royal knights and the Holy Kingdom’s acolyte knights clashed along the countries’ borders, and some of the royal knights including my grandfather were left behind in the snow.”

Gusteco was originally said to be an extremely cold land, a threat to human life with its never ending snowfall and blizzards, and in the face of nature itself the royal knights were forced into a horrendous battle. Julius’ grandfather was among the knights who ended up separating from the main force, ultimately being abandoned in the snow.

“Losing his way, with his body temperature dropping, surrounded by allies who had lost their sanity and fallen into derangement, my grandfather was ready to die. If he really had died back then, I probably never would have been born.”

“That’s quite the scary story. So, how did your grandpa make it back home? In all of that snow, he must have been completely helpless, right?”

“Hah. According to my grandfather, he was saved by some kind of phantom.”

“… Phantom?”

Anastasia frowned, her expression suggesting that she didn’t quite get it. Julius agreed with this reaction. Because when his grandfather first told him this story, he too had the same reaction.

But his grandfather firmly insisted on the existence of the phantom.

“My grandfather dragged his comrades’ bodies as he desperately struggled to escape the labyrinth of snow. Like so, he wandered around in the blizzard… And before he knew it, he was in a forest.”

“Forest? You mean a normal one with a bunch of trees and stuff?”

“Yes. However, it was a frozen forest. And it was in that frozen forest that my grandfather met the phantom. When the phantom saw my grandfather and his comrades, it said this.”

“――“

The way Julius told this story took Anastasia’s breath away as she eagerly awaited the answer.

And then―

“― ‘If you cause any chaos around my beloved daughter, I will never forgive you.’“

“… Hah?”

“The next instant, my grandfather and his comrades were in an unfamiliar place. But not in a snowstorm, they were in an open plain. After this, my grandfather safely linked up with the the royal knights and attempted to report the details of what happened, but he was not taken seriously.”

Ever since, this story known as ‘The Phantom Father in The Snow’ was passed down among the knights in scrupulous detail. It was said that it was all a delusion brought about by the extreme cold and frightfully ferocious snow.

“… Umm, what was that story about again?”

“It was a cautionary tale from my grandfather to teach us of how dreadful snow can be. If it was at all useful to you, I think my grandfather can rest in peace.”

“You sure are sincere, huh.”

It seemed the conclusion was not to her liking, Julius reflected on his insufficient storytelling prowess in response to her forced smile. However, this story from his grandfather who hated snow had a continuation―

“In truth, I wondered if this phantom that saved my grandfather might have been a spirit. Due to the effects of my divine protection of spirit attraction, I have always felt the presence of spirits nearby from a young age, but… Perhaps that was the reason I was interested in the spirit arts.”

“What’s with that, it suddenly turned around and became a nice story.”

He didn’t know whether or not it was a good story, but that he was here now was definitely thanks to that phantom. By saving his grandfather, and becoming one of the reasons he chose his current path.

Supposing that phantom really was a spirit, he would like to meet it someday.

“Well, anyhow. One way or another, your story about snow was pretty interesting. Although I can’t really use it as reference for when I head to the snowy regions.”

“That… Let us devote ourselves to that when we next get the chance.”

“I’ll be waiting, I suppose. You went to the trouble of telling me that story, but with the amount of snow we’ve got right now, it looks like Joshua’s going to be the only victim.”

Outside the window, Mimi’s laughter could be heard even now, causing Anastasia to shrug her shoulders.

Julius’ younger brother Josha was most likely desperately resisting Mimi’s snowy attacks even now.

They could no longer hear the screams that had been present until just now, so it seemed he was really concentrating now.

“Maybe he got done in and ended up getting buried in the snow.”

“It is me saying this, but Joshua too is a member of the Juukulius family, Anastasia-sama. It is true that he was not blessed with combat ability or stamina, but he has received the same training.”

Furthermore, Joshua too had heard their grandfather’s tale of his hardships in the snow. Perhaps Joshua had his own feelings towards snow, and measures against it.

But in response to Julius’ assertion, Anastasia closed one eye.

“It’s good that you love your little brother, but it’s a different matter when it makes you misread the situation, isn’t that right? To put it in terms of suitability, this is a match to which Mimi is suited and Joshua is not.”

“That is… Just as you say.”

Even Julius had no rebuttal to what Anastasia had earnestly pointed out.

Certainly, no matter how he looked at it his statement just now was far too biased. In truth, Mimi’s ability was at a level even Julius wasn’t used to. Unfortunately for Joshua, he was most likely completely outmatched.

“Ah, are you perhaps feeling down? You don’t really need to feel that way, though? I don’t think the way you want to have faith in others is a bad thing.”

“Hah… Want to have faith, is it?”

“Although you could perhaps use just a little bit of self reflection considering that apparent lack of self-awareness.”

Julius’ yellow eyes showed bewilderment in response to these unexpected words.

Wanting to have faith, that was the first time anyone had said anything of the sort about him. As Julius sincerely thought about how he should take this, Anastasia tilted her head, “Don’t ya think?”

“The way you have faith in Joshua is part of it too, at your core, you’re fundamentally a person who believes in others’ potential, isn’t that right? That’s also the reason you became my knight, I’m sure?”

“That… Applies to everyone, does it not?”

“It’s probably true that everyone has a part of them that’s like that. But that’s usually tangled up with a number of ulterior motives. But you, Julius, you don’t have any of that. That’s why, it’s dangerous.”

With her skills refined through innumerable negotiations, there was no one who could see through others’ ulterior motives and true natures as well as Anastasia could.

The reason Julius wished to help her reach the throne was not simply because the insignia recognized her as a dragon maiden, it was because of this nature of hers.

Her eyes had deemed that that was the sort of person Julius was on the inside. That he couldn’t earnestly accept this was no different from rendering his own judgement useless.

“Perhaps it really is as you say, Anastasia-sama. To have this danger pointed out by my master, it is a disgrace worth reflecting on as a knight who is supposed to protect those around himself.”

“You really are sincere.”

“But allow me to make one correction. It was not because I was expecting anything from you that I became your knight. Of course, I do hope to see you managing the country’s affairs.”

“I know, I know.”

With a gentle expression, Anastasia urged Julius to continue as he worried about putting it in a way that would be misunderstood. Supported by his master’s magnanimity, Julius straightened his posture and continued.

Julius’ yellow eyes pierced her pale bluish green ones.

“― The reason I became your knight was because you chose me. From this perspective, could it not be said that you were the one who had faith in me?”

“Haah, I see, I see. Simply put, don’t call me someone who wants to put their faith in others, is that what you want to say, my knight?”

“Meaning we are both equal in this regard, that is correct.”

“Mm, you actually went and said it.”

Anastasia spoke in a teasing tone, and then looked surprised at Julius’ answer. She then touched the scarf around her neck, and stroked its fur as she sighed.

“Right, right, I get it. I lose, I lose. We both put our faith in others, and we each have the other’s faith put in us, huh. That’s kind of complicated.”

In response to her words, Julius started to reflect on what he had done, wondering if he had inconvenienced her. But when he saw her expression, he put a stop to this.

Anastasia’s smile would not let him do something so inelegant.

“―What’s this now! Looks like you guys are having a great time! How about I join in as well, you lil’ brats!”

“Kyaa! It’s the captain! Amazin’, captain! That’s an amazin’ snowball―!”

“Cap! Captain! That’s kinda dangero… Sister! Here! Over here!”

“Joshua, let’s run away while we still can… Joshua? Joshua!”

“J-Just leave me behind… I don’t want, to become… A burden…”

The tiny space that had formed between master and servant was completely overwritten by the chaotic noise outside.

It seemed Ricardo had barged into Mimi’s snow game. If the huge dogman joined and started throwing snow without holding back, the situation would probably turn all the more chaotic.

“Hah, I can already picture it. Honestly, he never settles down no matter how old he gets…”

“However, I believe that is one of Ricardo’s strengths.”

“Well, I do think he makes a great pet?”

Somehow, this praise for Ricardo caused Anastasia to pridefully puff her chest a little. Finding this reaction of hers charming, Julius once again directed his attention towards the commotion outside.

He heard the loud laughter of the comrades who would fight side by side to the bitter end in the royal selection. This produced a very pleasant sensation in Julius’ heart,

“Perhaps it is a bit late to ask this, but what do you think of snow, Anastasia-sama?”

“Didn’t I tell you right from the start? Depending on the situation, it can block roads and thereby cause the transportation fees to pile up, ruin our storage charges, and change what’s popular, it’s a real pain.”

Anastasia outlined a number of points concerning snow from a merchant’s perspective. However, after she mentioned all of these grievances about snow, she continued, “But,”

“If I’m just looking at it, it’s actually rather beautiful, snow.”

“Yes, I think so too.”

Anastasia reluctantly muttered this under her breath, and Julius agreed with her. The knight then slowly turned towards his master, and offered her his hand.

Anastasia stared at this hand.

“Anastasia-sama, would you not like to take a short break?”

“―Fufu, to make your master slack off, what a bad knight you are. You’ll make that ‘Finest’ title of yours cry, you know?”

“If it is for the sake of this moment, I do not regret that.”

Julius answered Anastasia’s teasing provocation with a bold smile.

In response to this answer, Anastasia nodded with satisfaction,

“―Alright then. Just a little.”

And saying this, she took the hand her knight offered her and stood up.

< Previous Chapter ‎‎Next Chapter >

Re:Zero: Another Memory Snow – Chapter 2: Another Memory Snow / Crusch Camp

“Crusch-sama! Crusch-sama!”

In the capital of the Kingdom of Lugunica, a loud voice resounded through the Karsten family’s secondary residence.

With their short skirt and flaxen cat ears fluttering, a lovely character dressed in a blue toned outfit dashed through the corridor with light steps.

Out of breath by the time they reached the room they were looking for, this person flung the door open and barged in.

“Crusch-sama!”

“―You’re being rather boisterous, Ferris. Is something the matter?”

Greeting the cat-eared intruder was the calm voice and countenance of a beautiful woman.

This voice came from the imposing woman sitting at the desk in the room, using her quill to attend to her duties. The woman’s voice contained a tiny trace of affection only known to those close to her.

And receiving this affection directly, the other person smiled gently.

“Yes, Crusch-sama! It’s incredible, it’s shocking, it’s astonishing, I tell you!”

“The fact that you’re emphasizing it to that extent with such a lively voice, I must say I’m expecting something quite significant indeed. So, what kind of tale shall you amuse me with?”

“Myumyuu, please don’t put that sort of weird pressure on me, Crusch-sama. Ah, but Ferri-chan’s got something so surprising it’ll blow those expectations away.”

Saying this, the cat-eared person passed by the desk and went to the window on the other side of the room. They then pulled the thick curtains covering it to the side―

“Please have a look outside the window, Crusch-sama.”

“This is, snow… huh.”

White crystals of lightly falling snow danced down outside the window. The woman ― Crusch Karsten narrowed her amber eyes at the sight of the snow descending from the somewhat cloudy sky.

“Quite unusual around this season, is it not. Is this snow not natural?”

“Yes. I think there might be someone using a huge amount of magic or something. It seems the aftereffects of that magic have spread all the way out here.”

“I see. A being capable of manipulating the atmosphere to this extent would certainly be quite the threat, but…”

Rising from her desk, Crusch approached the window which had its curtains opened. Releasing the window’s latch, she gently pushed it open, after which a bit of snow and wind blew into the room.

Gazing at the wind and snow, Crush suddenly smiled,

“Their intent does not appear to be malicious. Furthermore, this degree of snowfall is not severe enough to prove inconvenient. That being the case…”

“That being the case…?”

“… I will be able to enjoy this rare sight with you with no worries.”

Saying this, Crusch turned around and gently took the slender hand that was by her side. Their eyes widening at Crusch’s smooth movement and gesture, the cat-eared person ― Ferris’ cheeks reddened,

“Jeez, your splendor is driving Ferri-chan crazy, Crusch-sama…”

And he muttered this with a resigned expression.

2

When he entered the courtyard with Crusch who had donned an overcoat, he found that there was already someone there.

Looking up into the skies, gazing at the snow falling from the faint clouds was an old man whose entire being was clad in heroic spirit, the sight of whom caused Ferris’ eyes to widen, “Huh”

“Old man Wil, why are mew out in the courtyard?”

“Mm, it’s you, Ferris… And also, Crusch-sama.”

Reacting to his call, the old man ― Wilhelm turned around and bowed to them as they approached. In response, Crusch who had linked her arm with Ferris’ nodded solemnly.

“It would seem the two of you have come to see the snow as well.”

“That is correct. From the way you put it, it would appear that you too have come here for the same purpose.”

“Yes. In this kingdom, it is very unusual to see snow in this season. The skies do not seem to have undergone any significant change so I would not say it is anything to worry about, but it also wouldn’t do to act after something has already happened.”

“Nyaow, don’t go saying such boorish things. I had such a great mood going too, coming out here with Crusch-sama so we could watch the snow, just the two of us.”

Ferris pouted as he complained about Wilhem’s response. Ferris’ dissatisfied gaze caused Wilhelm to force a smile as he offered a slight bow, “My apologies.”

“If that is all, let us leave it at that. I do not wish to be a bother to the two of you, thus I shall return to my quarters and await further instructions…”

“Wait, Wilhelm. Your words did not contain any lies, but… I can see that you haven’t told us everything.”

“――”

“Let me warn you, it would be useless to feign ignorance. I possess the divine protection of wind reading. According to this divine protection, there’s definitely a certain something behind that attitude of yours.”

As Wilhelm moved to excuse himself, Crusch detained him and pointed to her eyes.

―The divine protection of wind reading was a special ability Crusch possessed, one that truly deserved to be called a heavenly blessing. By reading the natural flow of wind, the user could even comprehend others’ emotional states, a divine protection granted only to a special few.

Simply put, lies would not work on Crusch.

Wilhelm’s expression changed to one of hesitation when Crusch called him out with her powers of observation. Seeing this unusual reaction, Ferris mischievously narrowed his yellow eyes.

“Hmmm? Gosh, Wil, trying to keep secrets from Crusch? Don’t you think it’s shameful to have that sort of attitude towards your master to whom you offered your sword and pledged your loyalty?”

“Mm, that is…”

“Or are you perhaps scheming something you can’t tell us about? Oh no, Crusch-sama, Ferri-chan’s scared… Uyan.”

“Good grief. Do not tease Wilhelm so much. I understand your true intentions, but it would be asinine to create unnecessary misunderstandings with that sort of behavior.”

Crusch poked Ferris’ cheek, surprising him, and then offered him a faint smile. And with Ferris still grasping her arm, she turned to Wilhelm and gave a brief apology, “Excuse us.”

“It can be difficult to understand, but Ferris does not bear you any ill will. I hope you have not taken offense at his words.”

“Aah, not at all. I believe his grievance was only natural. You need not be concerned, I do not believe I would misunderstand his true intent either way.”

“I see, that is good then. Now then, what of your ulterior motive?”

“… I am simply no match for you, Crusch-sama.”

Saying this, Wilhelm shook his head with a slight smile. The old man then narrowed his blue eyes and looked up at the snow falling overhead.

“Under the guise of caution towards an unusual event, I was indulging in reverie. The sight of snow brings to mind a conversation I once had with my wife.”

“… Seems to me like just about everything reminds you of your wife, old man. There’s nothing new about that.”

“It is rather embarrassing that I have no response to that.”

With his eyes still on the snow, Wilhelm simply accepted Ferris’s statement without attempting to deny it.

Flashing through those blue eyes of his were deep love for his dead wife ― Theresia Van Astrea, and nostalgia for those bygone days.

― His feelings towards his dead wife were a major factor in Wilhelm’s decision to become the royal selection candidate Crusch’s vassal.

Fourteen years ago, the kingdom carried out the ‘Great Conquest’ in order to subjugate one of the Three Great Witchbeasts, the White Whale. Back then, Wilhem’s wife, Theresia, was one of the people recruited for this mission, and she ultimately died a heroic death in battle when the kingdom’s forces were defeated.

Ever since that day, Wilhelm had continued to chase after the White Whale in order to avenge his wife. Crusch had promised to help him fulfill this most cherished desire of his, and thus made the ‘Sword Demon’ her vassal.

Understanding how dangerous the path would be, Crusch chose to answer this old man’s wish.

“But it kind of sucks to always hear your love stories about your wife whenever something happens.”

“My apologies. My life only truly began when I met my wife. No matter where I look or what I feel, memories of my wife well up on their own.”

Ferris puffed his cheeks, and in response to his dissatisfaction, Wilhelm lowered his eyes and stared at the cat-eared knight head-on as he continued, “That is,”

“Something you understand yourself, surely?”

“―, Wil, you coward.”

Having a precious feeling in his slender chest touched upon, Ferris spoke resentfully.

Wilhelm had declared that his life only began the moment he met his wife. And that Ferris himself should be able to understand that feeling well.

Ferris’ ― Felix Argyle’s life began when he met Crusch Karsten. Imprisoned by his real parents, Ferris meaninglessly lived on in a half-dead state until she brought him to the outside.

Was it not natural to vow to offer such a person everything they wanted?

“Get a hold of yourselves, you two. We do not know how long this snow will last. Enjoy it while you can.”

“Yeees, Crusch-sama. Ferri-chan’s just gonna toss this Wil stuff out and forget all about it!”

Crusch stopped her servants’ trivial quarrel, and when she did so Ferris raised his hand and hurled some more abuses. Wilhelm smiled bitterly at this, and Crusch continued, “Well then,”

“Might I ask what sort of memory with your wife you were looking back on as you gazed at the snow?”

“Yes, of course. I find it rather delightful that you would wish to learn about my wife.”

As Wilhelm smiled broadly, Crusch faced him with a gallant expression. As he watched this from the side, Ferris couldn’t suppress the bit of envy that welled up within him.

It might have looked as though Crusch was simply saying this sort of thing to show her consideration and magnanimity towards her servants, but that was not the case, she proposed this because she was genuinely very interested. It was not because she had an interest in others’ love affairs as was commonly said, the reason was a lot simpler.

It was because Crusch was a swordswoman who admired the Sword Demon Wilhelm Van Astrea.

Setting Crusch’s true feelings aside, Wilhelm whom she had asked to tell her about his memories nodded a few times and then quietly turned toward the end of the courtyard.

In his line of sight were some shrubbery being covered in bits of snow, and a small flower garden.

“My wife was a woman who liked to admire flowers. Regardless of what kind of flower it was, she would say they each had their own good points so she did not choose any one type to admire. But even so, she did have some flowers that she was particularly attached to. For instance, the yellow flower Diana which can spread its roots in any environment.”

“You occasionally see them in the capital too. What was it that she liked about them?”

“My wife once planted the seeds of this flower in an area of the capital that was still under construction, and it was there that we first met.”

“I shouldn’t have asked…”

Ferris had intended to collect himself, but pouted when he ended up poking at the core of Wilhelm’s love story.

“I have a number of other stories relating to flowers, but there is one among them connected to snow. Back then, my wife would say that there was a special flower that would only bloom on snowy days.”

“A flower that only blooms on snowy days, is it.”

Wilhelm’s words caused Crusch to quietly look at Ferris. In response to her questioning amber eyes, Ferris thought for a bit but ultimately shook his head.

Unfortunately, Ferris did not know of any flower fitting that description. However, supposing that such a flower really existed,

“That is definitely something I would like to see at least once.”

“My wife would often say that whenever there was snowfall. Back then, I was a terribly simple man and the blood flow to my head was lacking. I cannot say that I have improved in this regard even now, but I was even worse back then. Whenever there was snowfall, I would get my friends and secretly head out to search for that flower, trying hard to find it as I hoped to surprise my wife.”

“Heeh, how unexpected. You have friends, Wil?”

“― At this point, it might be more accurate to say I had friends. In their eyes, my present self would probably seem to be much more of a fool than the simple fellow I was back then.”

He slowly shook his head, his tone somehow seeming unshakeable as he spoke. In response, Ferris shut his mouth, aware that he said something he shouldn’t have.

Thus, an awkward silence fell over the courtyard. ― And then,

“Raise your head, Wilhelm. Have you forgotten the words you said when you swore loyalty to me?”

Crusch spoke firmly, she would not tolerate this sort of silence from Wilhelm.

Maintaining her dignified stance, Crusch stood right in front of Wilhelm’s eyes,

“I am aware that you have sacrificed many things to get here. It cannot be helped that you have some lingering attachment to those things. However, that is not something you must regret.”

“――”

“Regret is something that always seeps into you regardless of what choice you make, like stagnant dregs. I am no exception, nor are you, nor is anyone in this world. These dregs cannot be avoided, but they only produce hesitation when you look beyond the results of your choices. Therefore, I shall firmly declare this right now:”

Pausing for a moment, Crusch took some time to select her next words,

“―Today is not a day for crying and mourning.”

“――”

Ferris wondered if anyone beside him had noticed the fleeting emotion that filled Crusch’s words.

For an instant, Ferris’ heart was torn apart by Crusch’s strong words, and he felt a sadness so powerful it could rend his soul itself.

The throbbing of the powerful conviction that pushed her spirit to such noble heights ― Just who besides Ferris knew that the source was none other than the dregs known as ‘regret’ that Crusch herself felt.

“Not today, is it. ― Aah, seriously, at this age I even have to be taught how pathetic I am.”

Suddenly, having reflected on Crusch’s words, Wilhelm hung his head deeply. The old swordsman then faced Crusch once more and nodded with a face that suggested he was no longer tormented by his troubles.

“It is just as you said, Crusch-sama. I lack the qualifications to even stand here. And despite that, I am still here. ― Therefore, today is not a day for regret.”

“Correct… Although I do feel that it was Ferris and myself who left you hanging.”

“C-Crusch-sama… Ferri-chan was intentionally staying quiet about that too…”

The serious atmosphere that had enveloped the courtyard was dispelled by those few words from Crusch. Sensing this, Ferris dropped his shoulders at his master’s overly honest nature.

And thus, intentionally acting like he normally did, he buried the earlier impact deep in his heart.

Watching their exchange, Wilhelm smiled gently,

“Once I avenge my wife, I could search for the elusive snow flower she dreamed of. I am able to think this way thanks to you and Ferris.― I thank you.”

And so, in that courtyard’s gentle snowfall, the Sword Demon discovered yet another way to offer his wife his love.

3

“A flower that only blooms on snowy days, you think something like that really exists?”

“From a commonsensical perspective, it is difficult to imagine a flower blooming in the snowy seasons. However, in the end it is just that, difficult to imagine. A spirit’s influence or some special terrain… There exist a number of possibilities.”

As she said this, Crusch looked closely at Ferris who had grabbed her arm, and fell silent.

Close enough that they could feel each other’s white breaths, Ferris clung tightly to Crusch’s firm warmth. He knew that this was disrespectful, but he also knew that Crusch’s magnanimity was such that she would forgive it.

Like this, Ferris would occasionally wish to feel Crusch’s existence so strongly it hurt.

This was a coping mechanism to deal with the sense of loneliness the memories of his early childhood brought about, this had completely settled down over these past several years, but―

“… You’re thinking about his highness.”

“… Yes.”

Ferris responded to Crusch’s question with a slightly lower tone of voice and nodded.

Between the two of them, the word highness referred to just one person ― The fourth prince of the Kingdom of Luginica, and a young man who was irreplaceable to them, Fourier Lugunica.

He was a precious person who unfortunately left this world due to the epidemic which ravaged the royal family and ultimately became the impetus for the royal selection. ― Well, if it really was the case that everyone in the nation mourned his loss, perhaps Crusch wouldn’t have even participated in the royal selection.

“――”

Wilhelm had left, Crusch and Ferris were now alone in the mansion’s courtyard.

The Karsten family’s secondary residence in the capital ― Even here, they had countless memories of Fourier. Cheerful and affable, he loved Crusch and Ferris from the bottom of his heart, memories of such a person.

“But we never did see the snow with his highness. I was under the mistaken impression that no matter what, no matter when, there would be a memory of him accompanying it, but…”

“――”

“There are still any number of things we haven’t done with him, and sights we haven’t seen with him.”

That was the source of the regret Crusch was trying to tell Wilhelm about, this was something only Ferris who had spotted her momentary agony knew.

Crusch’s current goal was to bolster the public’s sentiment toward the now deceased Fourier.

He had never directly confirmed what exactly she felt towards Fourier. However, Ferris was not heartless enough to ask her such a cruel question.

So he simply wished to share her feelings towards the person her eyes were looking back on.

“If his highness were here, he’d definitely be having the time of his life in the snow, huh. And after playing in the snow with all his heart, he’d be exhausted and come down with a fever the next day.”

“It is certainly easy to imagine such a thing happening. It is as if I can hear him imploring you to cure his fever.”

“Yeah. Perhaps he would simply dislike the cold, and complain about it. After all, wasn’t he always bundled up in fur because he was so sensitive to the cold?”

Fourier would often choose to don an overcoat made from animal pelts. Ferris’ impression of him caused Crusch to lower her eyes ever so slightly.

“… Because he was the lion king.”

“Eh?”

“No, it’s nothing. I was just admiring the fact that you were watching him so closely.”

“Well, it was obvious that I would. After all, this is his highness we’re talking about here.”

He really stood out. He was always so boisterous, and he just wouldn’t leave you alone.

Loved by all, he was always the center of attention, and for some reason seeing this made her proud.

―She liked him. She loved him. It wasn’t about the relationship between a man and a woman, she felt that way toward him as a person.

“Speaking of snow, there was that marriage proposal his highness suddenly received from the Holy Kingdom. Judging by how desperate he was back then, perhaps he really was no good at dealing with the cold…”

“Crusch-sama.”

As Crusch reminisced nostalgically, Ferris shook his head. Releasing Crusch’s arm from his grip, Ferris stared at her face to face.

It was his own joke that started it, but he did not want her to misunderstand Fourier’s feelings. He loved Crusch from the bottom of his heart. So,

“The reason he turned down that proposal was not because he disliked the cold. His highness…”

“― I know.”

“Crusch-sama…”

“I know, Ferris. ― I know.”

Repeating these words any number of times, Crusch would not allow Ferris to finish that sentence.

And Ferris realized too late that what Crusch was showing him was not rejection, but consideration.

If at this moment, Ferris were to speak Fourier’s feelings in his place, the wound in Crusch’s heart would once again bleed.

And they would both have no choice but to admit that the responsibility for that lay with Ferris.

“――”

The two fell silent, and the snow falling from the sky slowly piled up on their hair and shoulders.

The freezing snowflakes caused Ferris’ shoulders to tremble slightly. The wind wasn’t all that cold, but if they stayed like this they would certainly be chilled to the core.

Perhaps they were no longer in the appropriate state of mind to enjoy the snowy scenery―

“Ferris.”

“―a”

As if reading Ferris’ thoughts, Crusch called his name and offered him her arm.

In response to this gesture, Ferris hesitated slightly and then timidly took her arm once more.

The distance between them was one they were completely used to, and Crusch gently stroked Ferris’ head.

“I wonder how his highness would have taken Wilhelm’s tale of that snow flower.”

There was no need for them to keep talking about Fourier. But if they decided to avoid the topic of Fourier now, there would be no going back.

Fourier definitely wasn’t someone who had only left them with sad memories.

Crusch’s attitude was proof of this, and Ferris felt ashamed of his thoughtlessness. He then nuzzled his face against Crusch’s shoulder with no hesitation.

“―His highness would definitely go and exaggerate it like crazy, he’d probably say something like how finding the flower means your wish will come true. And then he’d be all excited about going to look for it.”

“Aah, I can practically see it.”

“But Ferris would stop him by telling him he needs to prepare properly. And then his highness would take it seriously, hear what he needs to hear from a whole lot of people, gather his tools, and then…”

Once they started talking about it, once they started imagining it, they could clearly grasp what Fourier would do, what he would say, and what he would wish for.

―Even now, the fact that he was unable to save Fourier remained in Ferris’ heart as regret.

Crusch was the same, so this regret probably would not fade or even lessen.

Fourier’s final days could not be called pleasant by any means, they were filled with pain and suffering.

But even so―

“―His highness definitely would have done that sort of thing.”

“― Yes, I think so too.”

Surrounded by the gentle snowfall, with their smiles undying, Ferris and Crusch spoke of the man who could not be with them now for a long, long time.

The image of the blonde young man bearing a gentle, handsome face manifested in their minds.

―The face they imagined, was forever smiling at them without reservation.

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Re:Zero: Another Memory Snow – Chapter 1: The Demon Sisters’ Memory Snow

“― That is all, sister. I have finished changing your clothes.”

Saying this, the blue-haired girl― Rem tapped her sister’s shoulders from behind as she sat before the dresser and then inclined her body to bring her face next to her sister’s.

The pink-haired elder sister― Ram, bore an extreme resemblance to her save for their hair and eye colors. However, Ram was much more wonderful, her beautiful countenance was dignified and unshakeable..

Rem was always telling herself that she too had to follow Ram’s example as she admired her elder sister’s elegance.

However, even Ram’s dignified elegance was shaken this morning―

“… Thank you, Rem. But even this amount of clothes will not suffice, not nearly.”

“Sister…”

Ram’s voice trembled as she muttered this, the reason being the temperature which was so cold the room’s windows were turning white as they froze.

The Roswaal Manor was suffering an out of season cold wave at the moment, and there was even a little snow falling outside the frozen windows. The exterior of the mansion was turning white as snow enveloped it, one look at this would be enough to understand the extent of the cold this abnormal weather produced.

On especially cold mornings such as this one, merely getting Ram out of bed was quite the struggle in itself. With Rem’s desperate persuasion and cooperation from Ram who loved her little sister, they were at long last able to finish changing her clothes.

Perhaps one might think of it as exaggerated, but Ram’s condition as she shivered from the cold was truly pitiful to look at.

Even Rem who wasn’t particularly bad at dealing with the cold was unable to stay in her usual maid outfit which exposed her back and shoulders, instead opting for a thicker maid outfit which was intended for colder seasons ― The ice season. And Ram, who was even weaker against the cold than Rem, had gone beyond that as she donned earmuffs and covered herself with a blanket in order to endure the cold.

“Are you alright, sister? It wounds Rem’s heart to watch you suffer like this.”

“Yes, I suppose it would. With only this much warmth, it would be impossible for Ram to work like she usually does. Rem, please embrace me from behind. I would like to receive some warmth.”

“Yes! If you’re okay with Rem!”

Obeying Ram’s request, Rem firmly embraced her elder sister from behind. Stretching her arms to the limit, it was as if she was trying to completely wrap up Ram’s body.

Ram rested her head against Rem’s chest as she heaved a long, deep sigh in her younger sister’s embrace.

“Haa, I can feel your love, Rem… Perhaps we should just stay like this until the sunshine starts pouring in.”

“Umm, Rem is glad to be of use to you, sister, but judging by these weather conditions I am unsure if there will be any sunshine at all today.”

“Well then, I suppose we have an excuse to cling to each other all day long.”

“Fufu, we cannot do that, sister.  No matter how cold it gets, we are still the maids of this mansion.”

Smiling at Ram’s somewhat spoiled words, Rem nuzzled her cheek against her sister’s head which was in her chest. Ram sighed again as the sensation ruffled her pink hair.

“I have heard that sighing means you’re letting your happiness escape. Subaru-kun taught me this.”

“Is that right? But unlike Barusu who is freezing to death alone, Ram is currently wrapped up in your kindness and warmth. Thinking of the difference in our level of happiness brings about a sense of superiority, doesn’t it.”

There was no problem at all even if she lost a bit of happiness by sighing, Rem couldn’t help but admire her sister as she boldly declared this.

Regardless, considering the situation, the idea of Subaru freezing to death wasn’t one she could laugh off even as a joke.

“It seems Subaru-kun has been feeling quite cold as well these past few days…”

“Calling him weak would not even begin to describe him, after all. His ability as a servant is completely lacking, and he is utterly unable to adapt to his surroundings. I do wonder what exactly his strong point is supposed to be.”

“You and Subaru-kun, the two of you are the source of Rem’s strength.”

“I would have been happy about that if I weren’t placed on the same level as Barusu.”

With her lips relaxing, Ram donned a faint, wry smile as she cast her eyes in the window’s direction. The freezing window was covered in white fog, and the mansion’s front yard on the other side was barely even visible, but―

“― Does Emilia-sama intend to feign ignorance even with this much snowfall?”

“Umm…”

“Roswaal-sama is overlooking it, so Ram, noble as she is, has elected to remain silent as well, however this situation is definitely one brought about by Emilia-sama… Or rather, the Great Spirit-sama, is it not?”

“… Emilia-sama isn’t particularly suited to deception, after all.”

When she heard Ram’s deduction, Rem forced a smile as she murmured this.

The extreme chill that had been assailing the Roswaal Manor for the past few days ― The reality of the situation was that almost everyone in the mansion had seen through it, and knew what exactly was causing it.

The Great Spirit who accompanied Emilia, bearing the form of a cat, had entered his magical release period.

“I suppose his degree of freedom within this mansion is not quite what it was back in the forest. To think that he would cause this cold because of that… Ram feels she has gotten caught up in quite the troublesome situation.”

“That’s true, isn’t it. But it is definitely possible to learn from one’s mistakes. Even Rem was completely hopeless when she first came to the mansion, and would always trouble sister and Frederica-sama.”

As she thought back to how incompetent she was in the past, Rem looked like she was going to turn red to her ears.

She definitely didn’t think she was flawless even now, but she was even worse back then. Considering this, she thought it was only natural that a spirit arts user and her Great Spirit would mess up like this because of the sudden change in their surroundings.

“Furthermore, thanks to this cold, I can see Subaru-kun all wrapped up in fluffy clothes, it is very cute.”

“Mm, I can’t overlook what you just said. If it’s about being wrapped up in fluffy clothes, surely Ram is more than a match for him. And if it’s about cuteness, it is definitely an overwhelming victory for me.”

“My sister is wonderful. But Subaru-kun is important to me as well.”

“How stubborn.”

Ram’s response was short, but her expression was gentle and her voice was warm. This caused Rem to display a faint smile as well, after which she curtsied where she stood.

“At this rate, Emilia-sama and the Great Spirit-sama should be done with their little secret in a few more days. I am happy to be able to see you in your ice season clothing in the meantime, sister.”

“It seems you’ve developed a talent for sweet talking. Very well, I’ll play along.”

“Thank you very much, sister. Well then, it is about time we started working. Rem has to go see Subaru-kun too.”

“There’s no helping it. Thanks to you, I feel like I can move my body a bit. But I must request that you embrace me once every hour.”

“Yes, understood. Alright then, I shall see you later.”

With a last look at Ram who was bundling herself in her blanket from the cold, Rem headed towards Subaru’s room.

“… I ended up saying that to sister, but.”

She felt apologetic toward her shivering sister, in truth not even Rem knew how long Emilia and Puck would take to deal with this. She certainly pitied Subaru and her sister for having to deal with this cold, but she was also happy that she was able to see them wear things that they wouldn’t normally choose. Rem’s feelings were complicated.

“The sole point of anxiety was that the snow might end up crushing the plants and flower beds, but Beatrice-sama somehow managed to do something about that.”

As she said this, she took a look out of the corridor’s window, at the white snow that was falling in silence. The only thing Rem was worried about was the effect this would have on the plans and flower beds she dutifully trimmed every day, but thankfully they were secretly protected from harm by Beatrice’s valiant efforts,

It seemed as though Beatrice was helping Emilia and Puck from the shadows, it looked like she had erected a barrier that would prevent the cold from overflowing into the outside of the mansion.

In summary, the responses of each of the mansion’s inhabitants to this cold were as follows: Roswaal was simply waiting and watching, and Ram complied with her master’s intentions. Beatrice was supporting them in secret, and Subaru was just being toyed with.

“Subaru-kun, how cute…”

Now that it was this cold, Subaru would suddenly have his snot frozen before he even realized it so Rem definitely had to do something for him. Thanks to this cold, she had a justification to never take her eyes off him.

“But it might be troublesome to my sister if I said this, so I won’t.”

But even Ram had gone as far to say that she wanted to be embraced once every hour which was awfully cute of her. Rem was already satisfied with that much.

Even if this cold were to persist for a few more days, she wouldn’t mind in the slightest, that was how she felt.

―With a spring in her step, Rem was the one enjoying the mansion’s chilly weather the most.

2

But unfortunately for her, that modest, wicked wish of hers would not last long.

Because when Subaru realized that his windows were frozen, his snot was turning into icicles, and his neck was producing creaking sounds when he turned it, he set about searching for the culprit with vigor and soon exposed Emilia and Puck’s involvement.

And then the fact that this was happening because of Puck’s magical release period, the fact that Beatrice was supporting them in secret, and the fact that Emilia really did seem to be trying to keep this a secret.

Having discovered each person’s involvement, everyone gathered together to think of a solution to this problem. But as expected, the one who spoke up was Subaru.

“This is the grand opening of the first Chikichiki ― The Roswaal Manor sponsored snow festival!”

As Subaru loudly declared this, Rem secretly burned his profile into her heart.

“Sister, all of the villagers from Arlam have gathered in the front yard. The Chikichiki snow festival  shall soon begin.”

“… ‘Chikichiki’, please stop using that nonsensical term.”

Ram, who was wrapped up in her blanket, warned Rem who had come to wake her up.

The time seemed to fly right by, and it was now the morning of the snow festival Subaru had proposed.

The cold weather Puck had brought about caused snow to cover the mansion grounds, the snowfall was especially heavy in the courtyard, and produced a genuine snowscape the likes of which one wouldn’t often see even in the Ice season.

Within this snowscape, there were a number of faces one wouldn’t usually see around the mansion. They were villagers who inhabited Arlam, having been invited to the snow festival, they were showing their readiness to participate in the snow sculpture making.

Since almost everyone from the village had shown up, the mansion was extremely lively.

“This is yet another one of Subaru-kun’s personal virtues, after all.”

“They’re probably just aiming for the prize… But there’s likely no small number of villagers who are just like Barusu in that they just want to have fun with this festival.”

In response to Rem’s strangely prideful words, Ram who was stirring in her bed spoke with dissatisfaction. As she listened to her sister talk, Rem threw open the room’s curtains.

She definitely couldn’t say the skies were clear, but there was a world of difference from the gloomy weather they had these past few days. Rem had heard Subaru and Puck discuss this, that Puck would create all the snow they needed in the night, and keep the temperature at a level where it wouldn’t melt for one day. 

“But to freely manipulate the weather to this extent… The Great Spirit-sama really was a Great Spirit after all.”

“I understand what you’re trying to say, but that irreverent way of putting it is quite cute, Rem.”

“I apologize. It’s just, he is always frolicking with Emilia-sama, frolicking in Emilia-sama, playing with Subaru-kun, basking in the sun… That was how he appeared to be.”

To be honest, Rem’s impression of Puck wasn’t much more than that of a talking cat.

Now that she had actually seen his power, she could finally understand his true nature.

“―That Great Spirit-sama, could not possibly be such an easygoing being.”

“Sister?”

“I was just saying that it would be ideal if he really was satisfied just sunbathing and eating small fish like a real cat. Anyway, what do you wish to do, Rem?”

Rem tilted her head, unable to hear her sister’s low voice, and Ram asked her this in response. Having been asked what she wanted to do, Rem pondered for a bit.

As one of the mansion’s maids, Rem figured she probably had to help out with the snow festival. However, Subaru who was full of vigor told them to leave the festival in his hands, his breath wild.

Thanks to him, Rem did not have much to do today beyond her usual chores. Even Ram could probably go back to sleep like she always wanted to.

However―

“―Rem, please tell me what you’re thinking. Who exactly do you think I am?”

“Ah…”

“Has Ram ever bluntly rejected her cute little sister’s wishes I wonder?”

Dressed in her night clothes and with a blanket draped over her head, Ram looked all the more dignified and her smile pierced Rem’s heart. Rem then looked downard and clenched her fist tightly,

“Sister, Rem would like to participate in the snow festival with you. Because it would be our first time together in such a snowscape.”

“I see, there’s no helping it then. Now matter how terrible the cold may be, I shall do it for your sake.”

When Rem built up her resolve and said these somewhat spoiled words, Ram immediately took her blanket off and stepped off her bed onto the floor. Rem’s eyes widened when she saw this, “Is it really okay?”

“Even though you struggle with the cold.”

“If it’s for your sake, Ram can easily overcome a struggle or two. In exchange, please help Ram change out of these clothes. Because of the cold, merely standing up pushed me to my limit.”

“Y-Yes! Right away, sister!”

Ram’s face was noticeably paler than usual as she extended her arms, and Rem rushed to the closet in a hurry. Ram’s lips relaxed as she watched her flustered little sister from behind.

“The snow isn’t bad either, huh… I can’t accept this cold, though.”

She whispered as she saw her little sister in high spirits befitting her age.

3

“Just where exactly did we go wrong? Why was our score so low…”

“As you can see, it was clearly due to the Barusu parts. As expected, we should have devoted our efforts to reproducing Roswaal-sama’s likeness.”

Standing next to each other, the sisters gazed upon their collaborative project, ‘The Magnificent Subawaal-sama Sculpture’.

The snow festival ended on a high note, and the snow sculptures the villagers had left behind were scattered all around the mansion’s courtyard. In the end, a girl from the village had been chosen as the winner, and she went home delighted after Subaru personally handed her her prize.

Even the other villagers were already satisfied with having participated in the snow festival, so they did not raise a fuss over this decision and it could be said that the event came to a close peacefully.

Surely, the fact that Rem and Ram could leisurely take their time evaluating their work like this was also thanks to this. 

“Unbelievable, twelve points in total…”

“Hardly any difference from Emilia-sama and Beatrice-sama…”

Heaving white sighs, the sisters dropped their shoulders in unison.

An outside observer might consider their words and crestfallen attitudes disrespectful, but fortunately, these two were the only people around and there was no worry of anyone overhearing their remarks.

Incidentally, Emilia and Beatrice had received nine and seven points respectively.

Regardless, their sculpture created through great effort, ‘The Magnificent Subawaal-sama Sculpture’ ― Which Ram and Rem, upon entering the snow festival, combined their wisdom and strength to create ultimately ended up receiving mixed reviews.

The craftsmanship itself certainly wasn’t inferior to any of the other favorite candidates. But for some reason, all three judges had unfavorable impressions of it and they ended up with a subpar score. But among the three, since they knew what scores Subaru and Roswaal had given them, it could only mean that the anonymous judge had given them the lowest score of all which was rather annoying.

“This anonymous judge, just who exactly… It’d probably be wise not to investigate.”

“I suppose so. More importantly, let us look for points we can improve so we can prepare for the next snow festival. How about making it more like Roswaal-sama like you suggested, sister?”

“I do not wish to force concessions out of you, but I am certainly interested. Give it a try.”

“Yes. Here, like this, and this…”

They were particular about the height as well, so she used a raised platform in order to make some subtle adjustments, starting from the facial region. Since the base of the statue was already complete, Rem’s dexterous hands reshaped it in the blink of an eye.

Her heart was pained as she scraped off the Subaru parts she had recommended so highly, and made the Roswal parts Ram had wanted more prominent. And thus, ‘The Magnificent Roswaal-sama Sculpture’ was formed.

“It is complete, sister! What do you think? I believe it looks rather good.”

“… Yes, I suppose so. Just as I’d expect, Rem. You’ve done well.”

Hopping off her raised platform, she stood next to Ram and admired the snow sculpture.

She was tooting her own horn, but Rem felt that she had successfully reproduced Roswaal’s image which she had been familiar with since childhood. She thought for sure Ram would be delighted as well, but―

“Sister, does it not suit your taste?”

“That is no fault of yours, Rem. It is little more than a sentimental problem.”

“Sentimental…”

“I was just thinking. Even with such a well-made sculpture, what Ram wants is the real thing after all.”

“――”

Ram crossed her arms and spoke, and Rem fell silent as she felt the intense emotions those words contained. She then once again looked at the snow sculpture, and understood Ram’s feelings towards what was ultimately a fake Roswaal.

Rem agreed completely with her sister’s words. A fake was a fake after all. It was no match for the real thing.

“Well, this is unfortunate, but shall we go ahead and destroy it?”

“… I don’t think it’s necessary to go that far, though.”

“Y-You think so?” Since it’s not the real thing, I thought we might as well…”

“You have these moments now and then, huh. It’s very cute.”

Rem was embarrassed, having jumped to an erroneous conclusion, and Ram gently patted her head. As she felt Ram’s kindness, Rem abandoned the idea of making a Subaru snow sculpture in secret.

“By the way, you said something rather interesting. Something about the next snow festival.”

“Ah, that’s…”

“Do you believe there will be another snow festival, Rem?”

At point blank range, so close they could feel each other’s breaths, Ram asked her this.

To Ram who was weak against the cold, the circumstances surrounding a snow festival were probably terribly unpleasant. But at least she enjoyed the snow festival itself, Rem allowed herself to think this.

Her proof was the fact that Ram was smiling more than usual.

“Even the people of Arlam liked the snow festival itself, and we were unprepared this time, but with advance notice, it would be easier to put on an exciting event. Furthermore…”

“Furthermore?”

“Should these peaceful times continue, the Great Spirit-sama’s magical release period shall arrive again sooner or later. When that happens, I think this sort of snow festival would be the best way to deal with it.”

“――”

With a sour expression, Ram fell silent at Rem’s words.

The anguish in Ram’s heart was clearly visible. However, reality was rather harsh on Ram.

Regardless, Puck would need an opportunity to release his pent up mana and a snow festival would prove useful for this, surely even Ram had to admit that much.

Furthermore, supposing their next opportunity were to appear like this―

“It would be proof that the times are so peaceful that the Great Spirit-sama does not even have an opportunity to use his mana, isn’t that right.”

“That was what Rem was thinking. Um, sister…”

Rem timidly looked up at her sister to ascertain her reaction. On the receiving end of her gaze, Ram closed her eyes for a moment, and then let out a small sigh.

“At the very least, Emilia-sama will be staying with us for the next three years due to the royal selection. It would be difficult to say nothing of the sort will happen again in that time.”

“――”

“So I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be prepared for when that time comes.”

“Sister…”

Rem’s eyes sparkled as she heard Ram’s kind summation, she then leaped into her sister’s chest and embraced her. Rem’s joy caused Ram’s lips to relax as she nuzzled her cheek against her sister’s blue hair.

“Seriously, stop it with that childlike joy.”

“I apologize. But I’m so happy. Getting to play with my sister like this… Even back in the village, it didn’t happen very often.”

When they were children, the sisters spent almost all of their time together. However, spending their time together did not mean they played around particularly frequently.

This was in part because Ram received special treatment as the hope of the demon clan, but simply put, it was also because Rem’s lack of talent rendered her incapable of keeping up with Ram.

Freedom from such roles and the collapse of the invisible wall between them ― Both of these were due to the burning of their village and the loss of Ram’s horn, so she definitely couldn’t just be happy about them.

“How foolish.”

“――”

Perceiving the slight sense of guilt that had manifested within Rem, Ram pulled her little sister into her chest. Rem yelped in surprise as Ram caressed her back and then looked up at her elder sister.

With her face right in front of her, Ram formed a smile full of affection that she would only show to Rem.

“Ram is your elder sister. So whatever you want to say and whatever you want to do, tell me. After all, weren’t you able to do that just this morning?”

“… Umm, uh.”

“Rem.”

Rem was unable to get her words out, so Ram gently called to her to help her relax.

This sound brought Rem an immense sense of relief,

“I would like to do this again, I want to enjoy another snow festival with you, sister.”

“―. What a hopeless kid. Since this is a request from my little sister, I’ll do it just for you.”

Ram said this in an exhausted tone, as if sighing, as she ever so gently stroked Rem’s head.

Rem quietly closed her eyes as she felt this ticklish sensation against her head and Ram’s heartbeat against her cheek.

These troublesome cold days were borne of an unexpected, sudden magical release period, but even so―

“―Rem feels so nice and warm thanks to you and Subaru-kun.”

“I would have been happy about that if I weren’t placed on the same level as Barusu.”

― And so, in that white courtyard filled with snow sculptures, the demon sisters shared this memory of a snowy day.

Side Stories ‎‎Next Chapter >

Re:Zero Short Story: The Emilia Camp’s Great Evaluation Meeting

“You’re as selfish as ever, uncle!”

The one bluntly admonishing him in a loud voice was a young girl who had her arms crossed.

The girl had her braided deep indigo hair bundled up over her head, and her formal clothing gave off a dignified impression. Her gentle, well-featured face could certainly be described as beautiful, but right now it was tense as she scowled, her anger clearly on display, so it would be unwise to just carelessly drop a compliment.

And the focus of this girl’s anger was a tall man bearing hair of the same color as her and heterochromatic eyes, he was smiling wryly and looked like a clown.

“I dooooo apologize for the trouble I am causing you, Annerose. However, it was not necessary for you to go so far as to come to the sanctuary personally. The journey must have been difficult.”

“If I had not come here personally, just who in the world would give you a proper scolding, seriously! It’s because everyone else keeps spoiling you that you’ve ended up with such a bothersome attitude. You’re already a grown man, so do be sure to reflect on this.”

“My my, it would seeeeeem that I am always disgracing myself before you. But I suppose you are correct. My apologies.”

His bitter smile deepened, and the man― Roswaal dropped his shoulders and sincerely lowered his head to the girl. This attitude of his caused the girl’s eyes to widen,

“What’s this now. For you to sincerely apologize… Did you perhaps hit your head somewhere?”

“It wasn’t exactly my head, but the sides of my face have received quite the magnificent pummeling, among other areas.”

“What! Uncle’s face?! Just who exactly would have the nerve!”

As the girl placed her hand against her mouth in shock, Roswaal turned around to the sight behind him. In front of the procession of dragon carriages that Annerose had brought with her was a boisterous group. Roswaal pointed to the blonde boy― Garfiel, who was standing among them.

“It was him. It was a truly tremendous blow… I was blown right through the building.”

“What is this… I shall have a few words with him!”

Unable to hide her astonishment, the girl rapidly dashed over to Garfiel. Having noticed the girl’s approach, Garfiel looked slightly cautious.

The girl then thrust her finger toward him,

“You! To think you actually walloped my uncle, it must have been a sight worth seeing! Should uncle ever try to hassle you about it, just report it to me. I shall be your ally!”

And said this, causing Roswaal’s shoulders to drop even further.

2

“I am known as Annerose Miload. I was born into a branch of my uncle’s Mathers family… I suppose you could say he is a relative of sorts. I am pleased to meet you.”

Following this majestic introduction, Annerose offered a perfectly refined bow.

The self-awareness in every movement of this girl that was not even ten years of age made it plain to see that she was born of nobility, and moreover how pure her bloodline was. That deep indigo hair of hers was proof that she was related to Roswaal by blood just as she had explained, but―

“She’s so upstanding it’s hard to believe she’s Roswaal’s relative….”

“While the margrave might be the one most familiar to you, it would not be wise to think of him as representative of the nobility in general. It is a well known fact that Margrave Mathers is a rather eccentric person, after all.”

“Well, I suppose that’s true. Even back at the castle, most of those nobles were basically what you’d expect.”

When Subaru quietly murmured this, Otto agreed with an ambiguous expression, “I guess so.” Indifferent to this exchange, the procession Annerose had brought with her entered the sanctuary one by one― Entering the settlement, they started partitioning the passengers who numbered over a hundred.

Although the sanctuary was fortunately released at long last, its present condition could only be described as miserable. After all, the heavy snowfall that had summoned the Great Rabbit had now completely covered the forest, furthermore, the forest was also the site of Emilia’s hard-fought battle to annihilate said witchbeast in addition to which it was also the location of Subaru and Beatrice’s inaugural battle, the after-effects of which ruined the forest even further.

Roswaal was completely exhausted, and Emilia was having a hard time controlling her power that had just broken free of its restraints due to which they had no choice but to wait for the snow to clear out on its own. Consequently, the sanctuary was left in an out of season state of cold and regardless of whether it was temporary or not, they wanted to leave as soon as possible.

“And right at that moment, showing up with immaculate timing was…”

“―We who had made preparations in advance under the master’s orders. Frightful.”

“Uoohhh?!”

With their conversation interrupted as if it was completely natural, Subaru and Otto both jumped simultaneously. Witnessing their surprise, a young, blue-haired man bowed slightly as he apologized, “That was rude of me.”

The young man’s deep blue hair was tidy, and his face that gave off an impression of intelligence was adorned with a monocle over its left eye. His figured covered in a black butler uniform was rather slim, but his body was well trained and even a novice could see that his form was flawless.

“U-Umm, You are…”

“I am Clind, a steward working under Annerose-sama. I was previously in the master’s… In Roswaal L. Mathers’ employ, as a steward, obviously. Audacious.”

“A steward… It seems to me that that’s the highest position among butlers and maids and stuff.”

“Yes, that is correct. Sagacious.”

Clind lowered his chin as he answered, and Subaru felt a tremble in his spine.

He had certainly felt awed by Annerose’s conduct as well, but Clind was a step above even that. How should he put it, it was like he was so put together that it was actually offputting.

“Excuse me, Clind-san. I believe you said something along the lines of preparing in advance?”

“Correct. Master had contacted us beforehand. You are Otto Suwen, the minister of internal affairs, is that not so. I have already heard the details. Capable.”

“Although I was barely involved in that decision so I can’t really accept it!”

Looking on from the side as Otto screamed about his position, Subaru murmured in a low voice, “Seriously?”

The fact that this rescue party led by Annerose was prepared in advance meant, of course, that Roswaal without a doubt considered this to be something that would be necessary after he made the contents of the gospel a reality.

Although the future took a different path in the end, it was extremely ironic that they would be saved like this.

“… Thanks to which we can unravel at least part of the spell that binds the master. Thankful.”

“Eh? What was that just now?”

“Is it not about time you felt hungry? I was asking if you would like to dine. Repetition.”

“No, that definitely wasn’t it?! I get the feeling you were saying something really important?!”

Subaru objected to this unabashed attempt at a cover up, but Clind raised his brows, dropped his shoulders, sighed as if to show his exhaustion, and showed no sign whatsoever that he would answer Subaru’s questions.

This attitude of his immediately convinced Subaru that he was someone connected to the Roswaal Manor. And like so, Subaru was mystified by Clind.

“You’re at it again… Teasing others like that is a real bad habit of yours, you ought to keep it in check, Clind.”

“Frederica, you know this guy… Wait, that’s obvious.”

Frederica who was approaching them as though she had seen something she couldn’t overlook nodded extremely reluctantly in response to Subaru’s words, “Yes.”

“Unfortunately, I have known him for quite some time. Because he has been in Roswaal’s employ for a long time… I too was in his care when I first started.”

“For a senior you’ve known for such a long time, you’re rather bitter towards him…”

“I suppose so. While I do acknowledge that he certainly possesses ability befitting a steward… This man is deeply flawed in ways that that cannot compensate for. In particular…”

As if she had a list of complaints as long as their acquaintanceship, Frederica almost started enumerating all sorts of grievances. But before she could, a small figure rushed over to them.

“Big sis Frederica! The villagers have all gathered in the clearing. What shall we do now?”

“P-Petra! You can’t, don’t come here right now!”

“Eh?”

Petra had just finished guiding the villagers to the dragon carriages, and was now approaching Frederica for her next instructions. This made Frederica’s face go pale, but she was too late.

By the time she noticed, that man… Clind was already standing before Petra who was surprised. Everyone around them was astonished by his speed that transcended human sight as he looked down at Petra, and then nodded.

“― I see. This girl’s present looks extraordinarily promising. Gold star.”

[T/N: In Japanese, he actually says flower circle which is also a type of reward for young children]

“P-Present…? Not my future?”

“Yes, your present. You possess a spirit full of potential, your value is at its peak at this very moment, in your youthful state. Frederica was once the same as you, but just look at her now… Disappointing.”

“Get a hold of yourself, you damned pervert!”

Frederica attacked Clind with an unexpectedly merciless kick. Clind dodged this attack from behind without even looking, and slipped behind Petra.

“Uhya”

“T-That’s so low, you degenerate! Fight me head on!”

“Do not speak such absurdities, there shall be no fight. I merely wish to offer this girl with a promising present ― Yes, Petra, I wish to offer her some advice on how to best go about her work. Favor. For what reason would you interfere with this? Mysterious.”

“You…!”

Clind remained as calm as ever, causing Frederica to start attacking him ferociously, but Clind avoided all of her attacks, keeping Petra between them all the while. Petra was already getting dizzy in this maelstrom of wind, but the battle only got more intense.

“Aah, Natsuki-san. I’ll handle that somehow, so I think it would be best if you went to see Emilia-sama for now.”

“That would be a great help, but what do you mean somehow…”

“Somehow means somehow. Well, considering the path ahead of me, I at least ought to be able to handle something of this level, something like that.”

Otto said this with a shrug, causing Subaru’s eyes to widen. He then immediately averted his eyes from his friend’s consideration and determination and started patting his back violently.

“That hurts! Hey, what are you doing all of a sudden!”

“Don’t worry about it. Well then, I’m leaving the rest to you, our minister of internal affairs.”

That was all Subaru said before he ran off in a hurry. “I still haven’t accepted that!” He heard a voice yell from behind him, but he ignored it like he always did.

In this manner, he quickly made it into the clearing. Right in front of the cemetery, he found Emilia talking to Annerose on the stairs. He ran over to them.

“Mm, Subaru, you’re late. What were you doing, I wonder?”

The first one to notice him was Beatrice who was sitting on the stairs. She brushed the dust off her skirt and stood up, after which she naturally lined up next to Subaru.

“Ohh, sorry, sorry. I was just chatting with Otto and then got caught up in a weird typhoon… Beako, there’s this butler wearing a monocle, you have to stay away from him no matter what.”

“―? What’s with that? Just what is that butler going to…”

“Well, this and that. Please, Beako. You’re precious to me. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“I-I understand, in fact. Well, if you’re going to say all that, I suppose there’s no helping it, I shall do as you say, I suppose.”

Subaru pleaded with a sincere expression which made Beatrice turn red in the face as she nodded unsteadily. He figured that at least for now, this would reduce the risk of Beatrice experiencing something unfortunate.

Now what was left was to rack his brains as to how he could prevent any sort of contact between Clind and Beatrice.

“… Your present condition would suggest that you have encountered Clind.”

Subaru was caressing Beatrice’s head due to both relief and her loveliness when Ram called out to him. Holding her elbows, she maintained her usual stance as her light crimson eyes suddenly narrowed.

“Ram has not seen him in a while, but it would seem that his incorrigible nature has not changed in the slightest.”

“Aah, it was obvious, but you know him too, huh. He’s that much of an ikemen and yet he’s a lolicon, what a cruel act God has committed…”

“I haven’t a clue what ‘ikemen’ or ‘lolicon’ are supposed to be, but that is his intrinsic nature. He had even gotten awfully friendly with Ram when she was young and bright. Surely…”

“Surely?”

“―Surely, it was the same for Rem.”

Lowering her eyes slightly, Ram said this as if confirming something, as if she was persuading herself. Her words caused an ache to flash through Subaru’s chest.

Rem’s existence, her memories, were still gone.― Having safely brought her here from the mansion, her reunion with Ram truly was complicated after all.

Subaru had already been hurt by the fact that Ram did not remember Rem, but this time was no different. But what wasn’t the same was the fact that in this world, Ram and Rem had a future.

Under the premise that they would bring Rem back, even though Ram could not recall her existence, she acknowledged that she was her sister and was doing her best to come to terms with that fact. That in itself saved him.

“Well, anyway. We’ll have to coexist with Clind somehow, so we’ll be counting on you for that part, big sister.”

“I suppose so. If I could mention just one thing, it would be that when it comes to the young, he does not differentiate between male and female.”

“What exactly am I supposed to do having heard that?!”

It would also be troublesome to delve too deep into his perversions. This caused Subaru to shriek, and in response Ram’s lips suddenly relaxed into a dignified smile that was very Ram-like.

Seeing this, Subaru donned a bitter smile himself. And then―

“Hey, you there! Are you the Subaru Emily spoke of?”

“Woah there.”

Someone rushed towards Subaru rapidly, causing him to instinctively take a step backward. The one pointing her finger at him was none other than Annerose.

Her eyes were harsh as she glared at him and her lips trembled.

“I am, but… Eh? Why are you glaring at me with such hostility?”

“The reason is completely obvious! You took advantage of the fact that Emily is so defenseless despite her cuteness to force a chuu on her! Can you take responsibility for that?!”

“Wha…?!”

Annerose’s accusatory interrogation momentarily left Subaru at a loss for words. Emilia then cut in on their quarrel with a flustered expression.

Grabbing Annerose’s small shoulder, she shook her head as her face reddened.

“Y-You’re wrong, Anne! He didn’t force me at all. He even told me to move if I didn’t want it. I was the one who didn’t move, so… So it was consensual!”

“Wait, Emilia-tan! That way of putting it makes it sound strangely non-consensual, also, Emily? What kind of relationship do you have with this kid?”

“Emily is Emily, it is my pet name for her. Emilia and I refer to each other using pet names, that is the sort of close relationship we have. If you understand that, it’s about time you got out of our way you meddling insect.”

Her attitude as she waved her hand to shoo him away did not possess the slightest bit of the refinement of a young noble she had displayed earlier, there was only hostility towards a rival in love, and a declaration of war.

“Wait, isn’t it strange for us to be rivals in love! Emilia-tan’s the cutest girl in the world, you know?!”

“So, what about it? The two of us will raise the baby in her belly with love. So hurry up and get out of here, you homewrecker.”

“Mm! I can’t overlook what you just said! Did this brat dare say such a thing to Betty’s contractor I wonder!  Perhaps I should go ahead and shut that mouth of yours right now!”

“Will you use a chuu I wonder. You’re being rather forward, Beatrice-sama.”

“You’re just complicating things, so just be quiet for a bit, Beako, big sister!”

Beatrice had gotten angry when Annerose insulted Subaru due to her misdirected hostility, and now Ram was stirring the pot too. Subaru was frantically trying to resolve the situation.

Emilia’s amethyst eyes widened as she watched all of this happen, and her lips suddenly relaxed into a smile. Her finger gently touched the magic crystal on her chest ― Where Puck was sleeping.

“This is reeeeally chaotic, but… Fufu, these are the people precious to me.”

Emilia’s whisper was swallowed up by their noisy quarrel, and was not heard by anyone.

But the magic crystal shone brightly for a moment, as if the one within was listening to his beloved daughter.

Side Stories

Re:Zero Short Story: Emilia And Ram’s Bumpy Master-Servant Relationship

“Ugeh…”

The moment the girl entered the guest room without even knocking, she ended up raising her voice at the sight that awaited her within.

The girl possessed sweet, lovely features. Sporting short, uniform hair, her almond eyes shone a light crimson. But contrary to her lovely appearance, the girl seemed to have a sharp, intellectual aura about her.

But even that aura dissipated as she grimaced at the unpleasant sight before her.

“―That voice, is that you, Ram? Sorry to surprise you.”

The next voice did not come from the girl ― From Ram, it came from a person who was already in the room beforehand.

This voice was as clear as a silver bell, and merely hearing it would shake the listener’s heart for better or for worse. But this time around, the voice sounded strangely confined as it reverberated through the room. This was only natural.

The reason being that the owner of the voice was in this room with a bucket completely covering their head.

“… What is this, Emilia-sama. To cover your head with a bucket in a place like this.”

“Fufufu, can you not tell just by looking?”

“I can only imagine that this is Barusu’s fault.”

“You’re kind of acting like this is reeeally weird? Also, Subaru does have something to do with this whole bucket thing, but I’m keeping this secret from him. Please keep quiet about this.”

“Barusu has something to do with this, but it’s a secret from him…? That’s rather complicated, Emilia-sama.”

With the bucket still on her head, Emilia was sitting in a chair in the middle of the guest room. Ram’s conversation with her while unable to even see her face failed to touch on the heart of the matter, and was thus going nowhere.

“Hmm, Alright, I’ll explain. Off you go.”

Perhaps having noticed Ram’s frustration, Emilia slowly took her bucket off.

As she did so, her long, glistening silver hair spilled out of the bucket. This hair which was alluring as moonlight itself flowed down her back as she blinked and set her amethyst eyes on Ram.

All the while, she held the bucket to her chest as if it was precious to her. Ram knit her brows.

“As far as Ram remembers, you were not afflicted with a perverse obsession with buckets.”

“Yeah, it’s not like I’m particularly crazy about buckets either. But this bucket right here is my sensei, so that’s why things ended up like this.”

“――”

She was awaiting a normal response, so this answer that made her head hurt all the more caused Ram to narrow her eyes. In response to this reaction, Emilia hurriedly waved her hands,

“Ah, no, that’s not it! Umm, I’d better explain from the start. Do you remember what happened this afternoon? Not that I really want you to…”

“Are you referring to that singing that sounded like a bird’s death throes?”

“T-That’s… What I’m talking about, yeah, right…”

When Ram bluntly got right to the point, Emilia hung her head with a sad smile.

As Ram cast a sidelong glance at Emilia’s disheartened state, the events of several hours ago replayed in her mind. This was during their short break after they had finished the first stage of work in the mansion, and everyone had some free time to do as they pleased. 

Ram was walking around the mansion looking for her much beloved little sister when she heard it, a completely bizarre voice entered her ears when she passed by the dining room. Suspecting that this voice that sounded very much like a bird being strangled to death was yet another one of her colleague Subaru’s pranks, Ram barged into the room, but―

“But what I actually found within that room was your unfortunate figure sincerely attempting to sing.”

“Don’t call it unfortunate! Although I will admit that that was kind of horrible.”

“Kind of.”

“Reeeeally horrible! Are you happy now? You’re so mean, Ram! Beh―!”

Tormented by a strange sense of stubbornness, Emilia’s attitude turned completely sullen. However, Ram tilted her head, not feeling the sense of disappointment she had expected from this response.

Ram had assumed that Emilia who knew of her tone deafness was someone who was easily influenced.

“Despite this, you are not discouraged. Does this mean you’ve suddenly become defiant in this short time?”

“I don’t know what kind of impression you have of me, but I haven’t become defiant or discouraged or anything! Nor do I even have time for that sort of thing, I’m burning up!”

“Heeh, is that right.”

“Yes, that’s right. I’m burning up. I’m seeeeeriously on fire.”

In response to Ram’s indifferent reply, Emilia’s eyes sparkled as she repeated herself any number of times. Her expression was very clearly saying, ‘Ask me what I’m so excited about, ask me, ask me’, causing Ram to sigh.

“Emilia-sama, it truly does seem to me that Barusu has had a hand in this.”

“I don’t think that’s the case, though…”

“… Well then, for what reason exactly are you burning up?”

“Ah, you want to know? Fufu, and with that I shall return to the tale of the bucket. This must be quite the shock, isn’t that right?”

“I suppose so, it would be absurd if the bucket had no relation to this.”

As Emilia showed off the bucket she was holding, Ram momentarily felt relieved that they were finally returning to the topic at hand. Emilia’s fingers gently stroked the bucket’s surface as she continued,

“Subaru told me about this. That there are some ways to correct t-tone… Deafness.”

“Please continue without shame.”

“And then, he said the first step was to put a bucket over my head to confirm my tone deafness. It thought that was another one of his pranks at first, but that wasn’t the case at all. Subaru was seriously thinking about how to help me, so I figured I should do my best as well.”

Her enthusiasm was splendid, but the connection between her tone deafness and this bucket remained unclear. Although reflecting on their conversation thus far, Ram could hazard a guess as to what was going on here.

“You wanna know what the connection is between tone deafness and buckets?”

“Yes, absolutely. When you have a bucket over your head, the sound of your voice reverberating within would allow you to comprehend the extent of your tone deafness. If there exists some other explanation, please do elaborate.”

“… Ram, could it be that you actually knew what buckets could do all along?”

“Well, Ram has been using buckets for quite some time after all.”

The contents of their conversation were utterly meaningless and thus her responses became increasingly perfunctory as well.

As Ram boldly boasted in her formal manner, Emilia’s attitude seemed to be one of comprehension, “I see.” This straightforward reaction made Ram feel just a little uneasy.

―From Ram’s perspective, her relationship with Emilia posed some unusual difficulties.

It went without saying that to Ram, her one and only master for life was none other than Roswaal. Her body, mind, and soul, everything she had― Barring her love for her little sister, it would be no exaggeration to say she devoted all of herself to him.

And Emilia was absolutely indispensable to Roswaal’s plans. Consequently, Roswaal welcomed her into his mansion and treated her as someone even higher than himself.

Of course, Roswaal had ordered Ram and Rem to follow his example, but―

“… She’s completely unreliable.”

That was the sort of impression Ram had of Emilia.

When she accompanied her to the capital, she separated from Ram and ended up having the insignia that qualified her as a royal selection candidate stolen from her. Such incidents caused Ram’s wariness to steadily build up over the four months they’d known each other.

At the very least, Emilia was not someone Ram felt like she could count on just like that. She was also completely lacking in refinement, there was a limit to how flawed she could be as a person.

“So you have decided to practice on your own in order to correct your tone deafness, Emilia-sama? And moreover, at this hour.”

“Umm, That’s how… It is. I mean, if I were to sing in my room it would probably be an inconvenience to everyone else. There’s no one around this part of the building, so I thought it would be fine to sing here.”

“Meaning you did not expect Ram to come looking around here. Ram does not do this very frequently, however.”

Showing consideration in her own way, Emilia had decided to move elsewhere and Ram had ended up happening upon her, that appeared to be the gist of it. Perhaps one could call this a false alarm. All the more so now that she had discovered that Emilia was merely practicing to correct her tone deafness.

“Although I do not think this is something one ought to go as far as to cut into their sleeping hours for.”

“Even I can’t say anything in response to that. But I ended up bothering Subaru and the others a whoooole lot today, so… I want to do this properly.”

“――”

“The truth is that the reason everyone went along with my singing practice was for my sake, isn’t that right. Not to correct my tone deafness, but to, umm… How do I put this?”

“To relax, is it?”

“Right, to relax. It was reeeeally fun, but in all that fun the tension ended up leaving me, so I wonder if that was how it was.”

Emilia donned a faint smile as she spoke, Ram who was an outsider could not give her an accurate answer.

However, she could make a guess.

The reason Roswaal let Emilia have some time to enjoy herself even though she should have been studying every single day in preparation for the royal selection ― Everyone in the mansion knew that Emilia had been pushing herself too hard these past several days, and that willpower of hers was going nowhere.

Simply put, Subaru and Roswaal were working together in secret in order to change Emilia’s mood.

“Even though he is Barusu, to think he had fun conspiring with Roswaal-sama, what a crafty little…”

“Ram? Your eyes kind of look super fierce right about now, are you okay?”

“Yes, I am fine. I merely lost my cool for a moment. Well then…”

Having noticed the consideration of those around her, Emilia whose mood should have changed was now staying up late to practice singing. This was completely backwards, or rather, Ram got the feeling that their original objective was a failure.

As Ram thought such things, Emilia placed a finger on her lip and smiled in response.

“It’s alright. Everyone came together to teach me how to relax properly. Now, while I’ll be sure to remember that, I also want to be able to sing.”

“Although it seems to me that having you sing was secondary to them.”

“I know that. But I want both. Is it wrong to say that?”

As Emilia tilted her head, her attitude displayed the simple desire to overcome her shortcomings, and Ram assented having understood this. Emilia really was a little different after all.

“Do you not think you have become greedier than you used to be, Emilia-sama?”

“Don’t you know, Ram? That I’m actually trying to become the ruler of this country.”

Compared to the scale of this goal of hers, most other things were hardly even worth mentioning. This response of hers caused Ram to smile.

This was not a wry smile nor was it one of ridicule, it was a rare smile from the bottom of her heart.

“Ah, you’re smiling. Did I say something funny?”

“I wonder? It’s just, Ram’s opinion of you has changed ever so slightly.”

“Really? That makes me pretty happy then.”

Those words meant that Ram was looking down on her before, but Emilia decided to ignore that part and accepted it wholeheartedly.

Honest and easily deceived, one might think she would be easy to manipulate as a puppet. But due to her flaws, she could also do things that were completely unexpected. This girl’s nature was truly bothersome.

However―

“But to earnestly give it your all despite your flaws… I cannot say I dislike it.”

That nature was something Ram always saw in her darling other half.

No matter how different they were from her beloved little sister, Ram could not hate anyone who strived to overcome their shortcomings. Because that was a feeling Ram could not understand.

“Did you say something just now?”

Emilia looked puzzled, she could not quite catch Ram’s murmur which was as quiet as a whisper. Meeting her gaze, Ram shrugged slightly.

“Yes, I did say something. I was wondering if your rigorous training has produced any results, Emilia-sama.”

“Mm, I can’t overlook what you just said. Very well. You came at exactly the right time, so listen closely. The truth is I improved quite a bit in the afternoon alone. But I’ve advanced even further beyond that now!”

“Well then, please give it your all.”

Extending her hand towards Emilia who was full of vigor, Ram sat down on the guest room’s unused bed. This ruffled the sheets slightly, but it was Subaru who would have to fix them tomorrow. No problem.

“La, la, lalala―”

Receiving Ram’s signal and her gaze, Emilia looked just a little tense as she started singing. Her voice was slightly too shrill when she started, but it settled down soon enough. She was actually singing.

Considering she started with a sound that could be described as a bird’s death throes, her current advancement could be considered a historic achievement.

“――”

She started burning up as she sang and swayed her shoulders as she became increasingly engrossed in her singing. Even Ram who was listening intently ended up closing her eyes and devoting herself to the song before she knew it. 

‘The Sword Demon’s Love Song’ was an extremely popular love song passed down in the kingdom for generations. Liliana, a traveling minstrel who had once stopped by the mansion, had performed it so well that even Ram was secretly taken in. Of course, Emilia’s singing was still lacking a number of ways compared to hers. She still made mistakes that stood out. But it wasn’t bad.

“――”

When the song approached its end, it was as if the scenes the lyrics described were manifesting in her closed eyes. Realizing just how deeply absorbed she was in this song, Ram smiled wryly.

And with that smile still on her face, the song came to a close, and Emilia turned to look at Ram.

“That is all. Your impressions, please.”

“Yes… Nine points.”

“Eh! You mean out of nine?”

“You’re quite audacious all of a sudden. I mean out of a hundred, of course.”

This scathing appraisal caused Emilia to drop her shoulders in dejection. However, she immediately clenched her fists tightly and looked up.

“But I’ve gotten a little better, right? How many points would I have gotten when I first started?”

“It is rather absurd that you think you would get any points at all.”

“It was that bad?!”

To begin with, even calling it singing would be an insult to the concept of songs. That was how bad it was. So compared to that, Emilia’s current level definitely got a passing grade.

“But I’m sure a passing grade is not enough to satisfy you.”

“I suppose so. I wanna work harder and become better. Also, it looks like I’m still no good with songs besides the Sword Demon’s Love Song after all…”

Scratching her cheek in an embarrassed manner, Emilia pointed out her flaws. Ram sighed at Emilia’s ambition and the enthusiasm that came with it.

At this rate, this singing practice that was supposed to be a change of pace for her might once again cause her to overexert herself, putting them back at square one.

“Very well, then let us do this every other day. You shall practice here only on a fixed schedule. Ram shall free up some time as well.”

“… You’ll do this with me? Ram, with me?”

“It would be worrisome if there wasn’t someone watching over you.”

This was what Ram truly felt, of course she also had the ulterior motive of doing it for Roswaal’s sake.

But even setting that aside ― The song wasn’t bad, she thought.

“Thank you, Ram. I’ll do my best with you and bucket-sensei!”

“Please do not place Ram on the same level as that bucket.”

And with this bumpy conclusion, it was decided that for now, these nightly practice sessions would continue.

Side Stories

Re:Zero – Memory Snow Prequel: Liar Days

“Hmmm, hmmm, this is a real problem.”

“― What’s the matter all of a sudden, Puck?”

The sudden voice she heard from within her hair caused Emilia’s amethyst eyes to widen in surprise.

Emerging from her long, glistening silver hair and perching on her shoulder was a tiny cat spirit small enough to fit in a palm ― Puck. Puck crossed his short arms and whispered into Emilia’s ear, “Hey,”

“Between you and me… It looks like my magical release period has arrived.”

“Magical release period… What’s that?”

“Oh dear, you’re a forgetful kid, aren’t you. A magical release period is when beings like myself who possess extremely powerful Ods end up in a pitiful state because we have nothing to use our accumulated mana on.”

“Accumulated mana… Is that like constipation?”

“Hmm, that’s a rather vexing way to put it, but I can’t exactly deny it…”

With a finger against her cheek, Emilia simplified it in her own way which caused Puck to smile wryly.

But even Emilia couldn’t just disregard something that would make Puck suffer.

Puck was always playing around and his pranks were innumerable, he was still a precious member of Emilia’s family. After all, the two of them had always been together back in that snowy land they lived in.

“Now that you mention it, back in the forest there were times when it seemed like you reeeeeally wanted to use magic, could that perhaps have had something to do with this?”

“Well, that’s the gist of it. Back in the forest I could let off some steam one way or another, like helping you hunt for instance, but this mansion hasn’t given me that sort of opportunity in quite a while.”

Puck used the tip of his long tail to indicate Emilia’s room ― No, more generally, the whole mansion as he donned a human-like smile.

The two were presently speaking in Emilia’s room which was located in the Roswaal Manor. The room allotted to Emilia who was a royal selection candidate was so spacious and beautifully constructed that she felt it was too much for her.

To begin with, back in the forest she was originally living in she only ever stayed in a wooden house, so things like this stone construction and this massive mansion were completely foregin to her. When her lifestyle suddenly changed, she had her hands full trying to adapt to this change in her environment.

“But to think I never noticed you weren’t feeling well… Looks like I was only thinking about myself. I’ll have to reflect on that.”

“Well now, what a sincere kid my daughter is. While I certainly do feel a sense of accomplishment for having raised you right, let’s set that aside for now…”

“Puck?”

As Emilia regretted her lack of consideration, Puck separated from her shoulder and unsteadily descended to the bed. The gray cat then curled up there and,

“It kind of feels like it’s going to be a real tough one this time. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting on in years.”

“No way… Puck, will you be okay? Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Ehehe, you sure are kind. But now that it’s gotten to this point, there’s probably not much you can do. So… Right. For now, could you keep this secret between the two of us?”

“Secret, you mean the magical release period?”

Emilia tilted her head, not understanding the meaning of Puck’s request.

In response, Puck who was still on the bed started grooming his face with his paw as he smiled bashfully,

“Look, calling it constipation was kind of, y’know, but it really is embarrassing to have others find out about your magical release period. That goes for you too, doesn’t it?”

“Really? I mean, even if people found out I was constipated I wouldn’t really…”

“― It’s embarrassing. Lia, it’s embarrassing to have others learn that you’re constipated.”

“Y-Yeah… Got it…”

Even though Puck was supposed to be curled up on the bed, he emphasized this right in front of her causing Emilia to be taken aback as she nodded.

This was one of those moments when Puck would instruct her.

In this manner, Puck would often put significant effort into correcting various ideas Emilia had since due to her life in the forest she was not well versed in the ways of the world. He would most commonly work on amending this sort of everyday conduct in particular.

―According to Puck, it seemed like girls were supposed to be cute. Emilia didn’t really get it, though.

“Phew, I’m glad you understand. Lia, from now on, make sure you never mention anything like constipation in front of others again. It’s a promise.”

“Right. But it’s not like I’ve ever even had an upset stomach or anything, so…”

“But even so! Haa, looks like my work here is done.”

Nodding in satisfaction, Puck returned to the bed. When he once again curled up, Emilia quietly sat down next to him and gently stroked his small back.

He tried to hide it with his fatherly act, but Puck was extremely exhausted right now. It was certainly cute how he bravely tried to hide it, but Emilia couldn’t just leave him alone.

He had essentially told her there was nothing she could do, but then at the very least―

“Right, understood. I’ll definitely keep your constipation under wraps. It’s a promise.”

“Fufu, thank you, Lia. But it’s not constipation, it’s my magical release period.”

She used her finger to tickle his neck as he smiled, making him purr adorably.

2

And thus, Emilia was burning with the will to keep her promise to Puck.

Anyway, it seemed like Puck was trying to release his mana little by little so he could return to normal. Because of this, the temperature around the mansion had stealthily declined and the air felt just a little colder than before.

“Ah, Subaru! It’s a little cold today, but that’s definitely just your imagination, so you don’t need to think about it too much. Also, this is unrelated, but Puck’s going to be resting in my room today, not that that has anything to do with this, but… Sorry about that.”

In this manner, Emilia proactively tried to hide Puck’s secret as she endeavored to keep her promise.

In truth she could hardly bear to lie like this, but as Puck’s contractor fulfilling his request was the least she could do for him.

She was terribly apologetic towards everyone in the Roswaal Manor, but she wanted them to bear with the cold for just a little bit.

The chilly winds produced by the dropping temperatures avoided Emilia. This was one of the protections afforded to her as a spirit contractor, and as a result of this Emilia was the only one who was not besieged by the cold.

“Uuh, this is no good… Maybe I’m having a tummy ache for the first time or something…”

Emilia stroked her stomach which had a dull, persistent pain running through it, perhaps this was her punishment for trying to deceive others with her inexperienced lies.

If this was what happened when you lied, she could definitely understand why people said lying was bad. In her heart, Emilia resolutely decided that from now on she would avoid lying as much as possible.

As Emilia made this vow to herself―

“―Hold on a minute, girl.”

As Emilia walked through the mansion’s corridors, this voice from behind caused her to stop and turn around.

This call had no subject, but she had an idea as to who this voice belonged to. And she also understood that the owner of this voice wouldn’t simply refer to her by name.

“What’s the matter, Beatrice? It’s rather rare for you to have any business with me… Ah, it’s just a little chilly today, but Puck and I have nothing to do with that, so. Uuh…”

“You were just trying to get rid of me quickly, I suppose… What’s with that face?”

“No, don’t worry about it. My tummy just hurts a bit so…”

Sighing with dissatisfaction at Emilia’s attempt to put on a brave smile was a young girl in a dress ― Beatrice. She calmly crossed her arms and glared at Emilia with her lovely eyes full of scorn.

“W-What? Um, Puck and I, this cold really…”

“If you want to say you have nothing to do with it, I understand, I suppose. Anyway, how is my brother?  He must be suffering in your room, I suppose.”

“Yeah, that’s how it is. He’s all curled up like a real cat.”

As if even moving was too troublesome, Puck was as docile as a domesticated cat as he rested in her room.

Puck would very rarely enter a dormant state as a spirit in which his entire body would go completely still, but to Emilia this looked just as bad as that, or perhaps even worse.

“I’m reeeeally worried. Say, Beatrice, do you know anything about magical release…”

“Magical release?”

“Uhh, do you know of any method to deal with a reeeeally weird kind of constipation?”

“That man is without a doubt a supremely terrible influence on you, in fact!”

Emilia had almost ended up saying it out loud, but she managed to cover it up at the last second. As a bonus, she even managed to continue her question by putting it a different way, perhaps she had a real talent for lying.

As Emilia was surprised by this unexpected possibility, Beatrice angrily stamped her foot. She then placed her palm against her forehead, “Haa”

“This ‘problem’ is one even Betty cannot do anything about, I suppose. But I will hide the effects the solution is having on the surroundings, in fact.”

“Sorry, I don’t really understand what you’re talking about…”

“This is what happens when I go along with your absurd, roundabout way of putting it I suppose! How irritating, in fact!”

Unfortunately, Beatrice’s intentions failed to reach Emilia, leaving her at a loss.

However, when Emilia thought that Beatrice seemed to take offense to this reaction of hers,

“Aah, I don’t care anymore, I suppose. If that’s how you want to play it, Betty will just do things her own way, in fact. Don’t be so full of yourself just because you were the only one my brother revealed this to, I suppose. Hmph, in fact.”

Puffing her red cheeks, Beatrice turned her back on Emilia.

She didn’t really get it, but it seemed she had angered Beatrice somehow. This sort of thing happened rather frequently. Even though Emilia wanted to be friends with her.

But right now, her promise to Puck took priority over these feelings―

“Beatrice, tomorrow might be just as cold as today, but Puck and I have nothing to do with that, so!”

“You, stop running around telling that to everyone, seriously, I suppose!”

―For some reason, Beatrice got even angrier.

3

“Puck, this is bad… I might have a talent for lying.”

“Ehh, that’s pretty crazy. That’s a talent a ruler ought to have, perhaps this is a good omen.”

“Is that how it is? That somehow seems reeeally weird to me, though.”

Night had fallen, and Emilia reported the results of her all day operation to suppress the truth as she stroked Puck’s back while he lay on her lap. But unable to understand Puck’s appraisal, Emilia knit her brows.

It was true that by participating in the royal selection Emilia was aiming to become the next ruler of Lugunica, but what exactly was the connection between a ruler and lies?

“For now, I think it’s fine if you just stay as adorable as you are. By the way, you’ve been stroking your own stomach as much as you have my back for a while now. Is something the matter?”

“No, it’s nothing. It’s just, my tummy starts hurting when I lie..”

“Then I don’t suppose you really have any sort of talent for lying…”

It didn’t seem like Puck was going to believe her, he didn’t know about the skillful lies she had crafted throughout the day.

Regardless, Emilia herself had sworn to avoid lying as much as possible, so perhaps it would be best if neither of them knew.

“By the way, did anything happen while I was resting?”

“It’s alright, it doesn’t look like anyone has noticed that you’re not around.”

“If that’s the case I’ll feel so lonely I could die. Well, the fact that no one has said anything might mean they’re all duller than expected.― Perhaps I could take things a little further.”

“―? Puck?”

Emilia didn’t quite catch the latter part of his statement, but Puck meowed like a cat when she called out to him. He seemed to have a habit of doing this sort of thing when he was trying to deceive her.

“Jeez, come on, Puck, I want you to properly tell me everything.”

“Well, I’ll do that bit by bit. But you really managed to hold out without saying anything, huh. That’s incredible.”

“Fufu, I did promise after all. It was only natural.”

But even those suspicions disappeared in a flash when he complimented her.

Honestly, at this rate it looked like they could get through this without anyone finding out about Puck’s magical release period.

If there were any cause for concern, it would probably be that for some reason, Ram made eye contact with her a lot more frequently than usual today, and her eyes seemed to be suggesting something.

That look of hers, and her silent attitude. Perhaps there was something she wanted to say to Emilia.

“Ram did look like she was pretty cold too, could it be… That she was jealous of my long hair or something? Because if you have long hair, it leaves your neck a little warmer.”

Ram and Rem, the two sisters both had short hair, so perhaps they couldn’t deal with the cold around there quite as well as Emilia. That hairstyle really did suit them, but Emilia ended up feeling somewhat apologetic towards them.

“If this goes okay, I’ll definitely have to repay Ram for this. But Ram’s a girl who can do anything, so I wonder if I’ll ever have the chance to do that….”

“The way you look at others is one of the 108 things about my beloved daughter that make me proud.”

Puck overheard her murmur and responded with these words, making her smile.

108 had to be an exaggeration no matter how she looked at it. Puck was definitely skilled at identifying her good points, but even so.

“So, what about your magical release period? Is it going well?”

“Yeah, thanks to you. But it looks like it’ll take just a little longer for me to return to normal, so… I guess it’s going to be a bother for you and Beatrice.”

“Gosh, Puck. Wouldn’t it be bothersome to everyone in the mansion?  And Beatrice hasn’t noticed anything either. ― The two of us will have to make this up to everyone later.”

Since they couldn’t tell anyone about his magical release period, it would probably end up being a partial apology, but they still had to apologize properly for the trouble they caused everyone.

After that, she would have to bet it all on her ability to form an excellent lie at the last second.

“Ahh… Somehow, just thinking about lying makes my stomach hurt…”

“Hmm, that’s definitely not what you’d call a talent for lying. How adorable you are, my daughter…”

Puck’s completely carefree words made Emilia pout. She then gently picked him up and placed him by her pillow on her bed.

“Is it really okay for you to not return to your crystal?

“The way I am right now, I’m not sure I wouldn’t just shatter that crystal. I don’t want to worry you by ending up homeless, and sleeping with you would make me happy.”

“Really? I see. But I’m reeeeally happy too when you’re with me.”

Smiling at him, Emilia slipped in next to Puck who was curled up and lay down on the bed.

It was soft, with unusually velvety bedsheets, even this bedding on its own was a kind of happiness she did not have back in the forest.

“That, and Rem’s cooking. I was seriously shocked the first time I ate here.”

“That’s true, isn’t it. But there’s definitely a whole lot more coming your way that will surprise you.”

“Is that so, I wonder? ― Yeah, that would be nice.”

Puck’s words made her feel warm, and she started stroking his neck. Her cheeks relaxed as she watched him purr, and sleepiness slowly overcame her.

Tomorrow was yet another day she would have to give it her all for Puck’s sake.

That was another reason she had to get a good night’s sleep and build up her willpower.

“I can’t just keep burdening you like this either. I’ll try to return to my usual self as quickly as I possibly can.”

“… Yeah, do your best, Puck. Fuwah.”

“Good night, Lia.”

From next to her pillow, Puck extended his tail and gently caressed her forehead with its thick fur.

She remembered that Puck used to do this a lot back in the forest. That was a long time ago, but this sensation she hadn’t felt in a long time brought her a sense of security that was much greater than she expected.

Slowly, slowly ― Emilia’s mind, tired from all the lying, descended into the world of dreams so it could rest.

―We’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, but Puck’s problem with his magical release period ended up getting exposed to everyone in the mansion two days later.

To what extent did Emilia’s actions contribute to the failure of their secret mission? Let us save the details for later, but there is one thing that can be said with certainty.

Emilia’s smile when she realized she no longer needed to lie completely captured the heart of the boy living with her in the mansion ― That is all.

Side Stories

Re:Zero Short Story: Emilia’s Capital Touring Chronicle

“―The capital really is suuuuper huge after all.”

With her hands joined in front of her chest, the girl said this in a lively voice as her eyes sparkled at the scenery before her.

She was a beautiful girl. She possessed long, silky silver hair that reached her hips. Her braided silver hair was accentuated by a white flower accessory, quite literally giving her a flower-like loveliness.

Her skin was as fair as virgin snow, her slender, well-proportioned limbs were draped in a dress with a white theme, and her amethyst eyes that were admiring the townscape sparkled so beautifully it was if there were jewels embedded in them.

Her beauty was such that one would not hesitate in the slightest to call her the loveliest girl in the world. However, the way the girl was looking around her surroundings full of excitement was just a little too childish to fit that description.

Her eyes followed the sea of people passing to the left and to the right. Once glance at her eyes that were full of curiosity as if looking at something novel would be enough to tell that what she was feeling was somewhat akin to someone from the country visiting the big city for the first time.

“You’re very cute when you’re having fun like this, but perhaps it’s about time you returned to reality―”

Raining on her parade was a voice whispering so it would only reach her slightly longer than normal ears. However, there was no one around her. But the voice was quite literally right by her ear, so―

“―M, Come on, I already know that the situation has gotten a bit troublesome. You’re being so mean even though I only stopped for a moment.”

“Well, it’s not like I want to earn my daughter’s ire by endlessly scolding her either. But this is going to be quite a bother to the others as well, and you don’t want that either, right?”

“That’s true, but…”

The voice continued its sound argument and the girl despondently lowered her head in response. As she did this, a small figure nimbly pushed its way through her hair out to her shoulder. This was―

“Anyway, try looking around for a place that looks familiar. There’s no point in getting dejected.”

Offering this forward-thinking proposal while stroking its whiskers was a cat small enough to fit in one’s palm.

It was coated in gray fur, with big, round eyes and a pink nose. Setting aside its size, that was all there was to say about its appearance, but where it differed most from an ordinary cat was in the fact that it was standing on two legs.

Waving its tail that was about as long as the rest of its body, the cat purred atop the girl’s shoulder.

“I suppose your final option would be to build up your courage and ask someone. Can you do that, Lia?”

“Don’t make fun of me. Of course I can do something that simple. Puck, you blockhead, you’re always treating me like a kid.”

“How else would you treat a kid that ended up losing their attendant because they were having too much fun?”

In response to his words that were both carefree and flippant, all the girl could do was pout.

The cat known as Puck smiled as the girl started behaving like a kid immediately after complaining about being treated like a kid.

“Alright, this is going to be a real problem if the sun goes down. You’d better find your way while I can still help you, Emilia.”

“I’m not some lost kid. I just ended up getting a little confused about the area!”

Becoming stubborn in response to his call, the girl― Emilia started walking with a prim expression.

Toward the endless sea of people before her, in order to find the servant girl she had lost.

2

The capital city of Lugunica, possessing a population exceeding 300,000, was the world’s foremost metropolis in terms of populace and was the core of the Dragon Kingdom,

At its center was the royal castle, and the city ― The royal capital was a melting pot of all sorts of races, always bustling with activity and overflowing energy, one could spend their entire day watching the people walking on the streets without getting bored.

In particular, the commercial district, also known as the ‘trading street’, which was home to countless stalls and hawkers, and had any number of high quality goods or curios imported from other countries lined up due to which it was always dizzyingly busy.

“… Humans really are amazing.”

Somehow making it out of the wave of people, Emilia escaped to the side of the street and paused to take a breath. Smoothing down her ruffled silver hair, she once again examined the street once she was done with her short break.

The trading street was filled to the brim with people passing back and forth, conversing and negotiating endlessly. One street, just a single shopping street had this many people on it. Just the mere thought of how difficult it would be to find a single person in all of this depressed her.

“That girl was wearing a rather conspicuous outfit herself, but… Even that doesn’t really mean much in the capital, huh.”

Puck who was slipping back into her hair spoke her thoughts out loud. Poking the cat as if she were touching her hair, Emilia lowered the ends of her eyebrows looking troubled.

“Yeah, that’s going to be a problem… Also, you’d better be careful too, Puck. It’d cause a real panic if anyone were to see you, you could just go back into your crystal since you don’t have anything to do.”

“I do have something to do, though, I’m your conversation partner. It’d be a problem if you started crying because I left you alone. But anyway, what are you going to do? Wanna haphazardly wander around at random with no destination whatsoever?”

“The way you put it seems like I’d probably never ever find her. I’ll have to use my head on this one.”

Shaking her head at his proposal, Emilia tapped her head with her finger.

With this, Emilia fell deep in thought and Puck started grooming his fur as he patiently waited for her brilliant idea. But what emerged from her was not a brilliant idea―

“―Look, Puck. It looks like there’s a bit of a quarrel going on over there.”

“Liiiaaa.”

“A little! Just a little bit! I’m curious, so I’ll head over there for just one moment!”

On the other side of the street, she could see that some curious onlookers were gathering around a stall some distance away. In response to what Emilia said when she saw this, Puck sighed in a somewhat troubled manner.

“Hey, Lia, you’re in trouble yourself, you know?”

“Y-You’re wrong. It’s not like I want to help them or anything… Right, I just feel like taking a look.”

Looking as evil as she could and yet still quite cute, Emilia ran over to the disturbance. Making her way through the crowd, she made it to the front of the onlookers. And then―

“C’mon, Mimi keeps telling you―. Mimi doesn’t do things like dining and dashing. Mimi just ended up losing Hetaro who had the wallet, so Mimi’s in a lot of trouble!”

“You too, young lady, how many times are you going to make me repeat myself. I don’t know about this missing person, but you’ve already eaten my product, so I must receive the appropriate compensation. Aah, if your companion isn’t with you, you could use your possessions instead.…”

“Mimi’s got this staff and stuff, but if Mimi hands it over the lady’s going to be super mad at Mimi!”

The sight of the two who were quarrelling in the middle of all of these rubberneckers caused Emilia’s eyes to widen.

One of the two parties who were arguing was a tall, dark-skinned man, and judging by his appearance he was probably the owner of the stall in question. And facing him was the one who had been arguing with him all this time, a person with a small build who was much shorter than him.

They were a cat-like beastman bearing round ears and orange hair. They were probably of the catman race. In terms of height they barely even reached Emilia’s waist, and their large white robe covered their entire body. Possessing cute, round eyes and an adorable nose, she was a girl whose entire body seemed to exude loveliness.

Judging by the contents of their conversation it seemed as though she was unable to pay the bill she owed the stall, but,

“Mimi doesn’t want to be thought of as someone who dines and dashes either. You want this staff, old man?”

“I feel guilty after all! That’s quite a decent staff, isn’t it? How troublesome…”

“Gosh, that Hetaro, getting lost so easily! Mimi’s mad at you as your older sister.”

“Excuse me…”

As the concerned parties started wearing themselves out, someone raised their hand and interfered. The girl and the shopkeeper were both surprised, the one standing between them was none other than Emilia.

Emilia had timidly stepped in, and with the two of them staring at her she continued, “Umm,”

“I happened to overhear, but… Basically, you just need compensation for what this girl ate, is that right?”

“Ah, yeah, that’s right, but… Young lady, are you this girl’s acquaintance?”

“Eh, this lady’s my acquaintance? First time I’m hearing of it! I don’t know her at all!”

“No, I don’t know her either. This is my first time seeing her.”

“Ehh―?!”

Emilia and the kitten, caught between the airheadedness of these two the shopkeeper screamed in despair. But Emilia disregarded this and quietly reached into her pocket.

“But I’ll pay for her. That should solve everything, right?”

“That would certainly be a great help, but… You don’t even know this girl, right?”

“True enough, I don’t know her, but… She does look reeeeally cute.”

This felt sloppy even for an excuse made up on the spot, but the shopkeeper seemed to conclude that Emilia was being considerate in her own way.

The shopkeeper nodded as if giving up, and Emilia smiled at him as she pulled out her purse.

“… Eh, eh?”

The hand digging around in her pocket was unable to grasp what it was supposed to. Emilia carefully checked every nook and cranny of her bosom, hips and sleeves and then nodded deeply.

“― Looks like I dropped my purse somewhere.”

The heartrending murmur of the girl who had lost her attendant in the middle of the capital and was now completely penniless dominated the area.

3

Having announced that she would shoulder the girl’s debt, Emilia was now in quite the predicament now that it turned out that her purse was missing.

Her attempt at philanthropy, or rather, philcathropy had ended up like this. Feeling Puck sigh in exasperation from within her hair, Emilia was unable to say anything in response as she fretted.

She had to find some way to break through this situation. But just how in the world could she ― And then, in that place that had fallen silent, her brain arrived at one hope. That was,

“― I’m going to perform. If you find it entertaining, please toss me some money.”

“Eh?”

This impromptu announcement of a street performance caused all the bystanders to tilt their heads.

Among all these faces of astonishment, only Emilia who started preparing with a face that looked as though she was intending to do this from the very start, and the catman girl who was delighted, “Ooh! A performance! How fun!” Were different.

Needless to say, not even Puck was able to follow this completely unexpected idea of hers. The cat rustled around in her hair as he changed position, and quietly whispered into Emilia’s ear.

“Lia, Lia, I’m afraid to ask this, but what’s this all of a sudden?”

“I just remembered, Puck. If you show off some unique performances in a place with lots of people around, you can get money, isn’t that right? I think this is the perfect solution for me and this girl since we’re both broke!”

“You’re definitely cute when you’re trying hard, but there are times when I wonder if I went wrong somewhere while raising you. For instance, now would be one of those times.”

It was already too late to turn back, and Emilia had no intention of turning back either, Puck’s lamentations had no effect on her.

Neglecting to even prepare the bystanders for what was to come, Emilia took a step forward and started breathing deeply. Standing before the stall, right in front of all of these onlookers, the area naturally ended up getting monopolized by Emilia.

“I shall now have an extremely rare animal perform for all of you.”

“I’ve suddenly got a bad feeling that I’m about to get wrapped up in this.”

“Let’s go.”

Emilia thrust her right hand out in front of the onlookers and declared this.

The spectators seemed baffled as she showed them her empty palm. Unfazed by their reactions, Emilia signaled to Puck who was taking quite a while to emerge from her hair.

“C’mon, please. Hey, Puck. Come out.”

“It’s not that I mistimed my appearance, it’s that I don’t want to appear at all. But I’d rather not humiliate you in front of everyone, so I suppose I’ll have to come out.”

Shrugging his shoulders as he sighed, Puck was dejected as he reluctantly forced himself to creep out of her hair. His appearance instantly caused a commotion, and even as this happened he continued to walk across her upper her arm and elbow until he finally reached her palm where he raised both paws and proclaimed, “Victory”

The crowd grew excited in an instant. Emilia thought this response meant she was doing well―

“This is an extremely rare animal. I shall now have it…”

“S-Spirit! It’s a spirit! She’s a spirit user!”

“Crap, run! Drop your weapons and all the money you have and run!”

Perhaps she should have him dance, as Emilia thought up a program the crowd in front of her dispersed and ran off. They dropped everything they had on them, and the panic started spreading to people who weren’t even involved. Like this, the commotion continued to spread and when the dust finally settled, the street was completely deserted.

Emilia was dumbfounded by this, and Puck who was still on her palm started grooming his face with his palm as he spoke,

“Just about everyone would run away if they saw a spirit. It was just like you said.”

“That’s true, but… They didn’t need to be that surprised, did they?”

Accepting Puck’s words, Emilia sulked a bit as she looked around her surroundings. She was surrounding by all the things the onlookers had discarded. Going by the rules of street performances, all of these things now belonged to Emilia. Of course, she wouldn’t actually take them.

“… Your dancing is so cute, it would have been nice if they saw it before they went home.”

“To call that reaction going home, I quite like your elegance.”

The two had this frivolous exchange. And then―

“Ohh! This cat’s really talking! How? How can you talk? Are you the same as Mimi? Are you a catman? You’re tiny! Super tiny!  Ufuhahaha―”

“This kid’s pretty bold, huh. If you consider appearance alone we’re certainly rivals in terms of prettiness, but we’re entirely different beings.”

“Is that so? How do ya know that?”

“I’m Lia’s father, and you’re that Hetaro kid’s elder sister, isn’t that right?”

“It’s true―!”

For some reason, Puck’s joke caused the aforementioned girl to explode with laughter. Anyway, she was genuinely happy that this girl stayed with them.

If even she had run away, even Emilia would surely be hurt.

“Huh?”

Suddenly, Emilia’s eyes widened as she examined the fallen items. The reason for this was one of the items by her feet ― A white purse placed on top of some somewhat dirty wrapping.

She crouched down and picked it up, and then nodded when she confirmed its feel.

“It really is the purse I lost… Why is it in a place like?”

“― Perhaps some kind hearted soul brought it here?”

Puck said this as if bored, and yawned as he slipped back into her silver hair.

He was basically declaring that he was done. This upset the catman girl, but she immediately returned to her usual self and started wagging her tail when Emilia stroked her head.

“Ufuhihihi, you’re super good at this, lady! You’re probably a match for the lady! You’re definitely far above the captain!”

“Yeah? Fufu, thank you.”

“Mimi can tell you’re a really good person, so Mimi’s gonna remember ya! If you ever have something troubling you or someone you wanna drop, just tell Mimi and it’ll all be fine!”

“Drop… I don’t really get it, but okay. I’ll be sure to remember you too.”

She didn’t really understand what this cute catman was saying, but Emilia magnanimously accepted her words.

Emilia then turned around as she continued to stroke the girl’s head. Behind her was the shopkeeper who even though the situation had completely left him behind, continued to man the stall because he could not abandon it.

Now that she had her purse back, Emilia approached the dumbfounded shopkeeper and opened it.

“Um, so, how much did she owe you?”

And she once again resumed her philanthropy under the guise of nosiness.

Side Stories

Re:Zero Short Story: Emilia’s First Date

The day of their promised date began with a morning blessed with a clear, cloudless sky.

“I feel like a braid definitely looks best on you these days, but it’s regrettable that I have to show it to Subaru. As for your clothes, I suppose it would be best to stick with the white theme. We’ll add a highlight with your hair accessories, and then, after that…”

Floating around in a hurry before the silver-haired girl sitting on the bed― Before Emilia was the cat spirit she had formed a contract with, Puck.

As she watched the gray furball stress himself out, Emilia placed a finger on her cheek.

“I don’t think you have to worry about it that much, it’d probably be fine if we just went with the usual…”

“No way! Forget about your partner, this is your first date. You absolutely have to be the cutest in the world!”

“Gosh, you’re making such a big deal of it.”

Puck’s fighting spirit seemed to be blazing for some reason, Emilia stealthily sighed so he wouldn’t see it.

Acting as her foster parent, the cat spirit who was essentially her family had been in this state since last night. At this rate, the preparations alone would exhaust her before she even took a step outside. ― Even though she was supposed to go on a ‘date’ with Subaru today.

“Listen closely, Lia. On today’s outing, Subaru might try to approach you to hold your hand or something of the sort, but you definitely must not allow that. Don’t get caught up in the flow of things, no matter what. The most important traits in a woman are modesty, shyness, and just a little bit of submissiveness. I’m always telling you this, so I’m sure you understand.”

“Okay, I get it already, jeez. If you’re that worried, you might as well come along.”

“I want to respect his courage as a man. There’s no way I could do something so tactless.”

“But then your words and actions are completely contradicting each other…”

“My feelings as a male wanting to support him and my feelings as a parent wanting to forbid this are battling it out within me… Hngh, Lia, you’d better go while I can still hold myself back…!”

“Right, right.”

Puck’s theatrics as he made his jokes were probably due to Subaru’s bad influence.

She certainly felt like he was already this way to begin with, but she also thought he had gotten even worse about it now.

Quickly finishing up her personal grooming, Emilia beckoned Puck over to her with her hand. Puck readily responded to her call and perched on her shoulder, after which he started massaging her cheek with his paws in a fancy manner.

“Alright then, Lia. I’ll be sleeping in my Yorishiro, but if Subaru tries to do anything that strays from the path of decency, be sure to call me out.”

“Come on, you don’t have to worry about that sort of thing. Alright, nighty night. Take it easy.”

As Puck saw a giggling Emilia off, his body dissolved into particles of light. The faint light was then absorbed into the crystal on her chest, and the noisy cat watching over her fell silent.

Therefore, Emilia flicked the crystal with her finger after which she jauntily walked out of the room.

Even Emilia understood that her heart somehow felt stimulated as if it was expecting something.

2

“Did I keep you waiting?”

“No, I’ve only just gotten here myself.”

Standing before the tree they had decided to meet at, Subaru responded like so to Emilia who had just linked up with him.

Emilia nodded at his response, and then turned back to the mansion as she continued,

“You said you wanted to meet outside the mansion, and say that stuff we just said… Can I ask if there was any particular meaning to that?”

“They both seem rather fitting for a date, don’t you think! Leaving the mansion together wouldn’t feel very much like a date, and when you meet outside the sort of conversation we just had is an absolute necessity.”

It seemed like he had arrived much earlier than her, and used a twig or something to draw several pictures of Puck in order to kill time under this tree.

Seeing this, it seemed to her that at the very least his statement that he had only just gotten here himself was a complete lie.

“Hmm, so that’s how it is. I really don’t know anything about this sort of thing.”

“By the way, I would still reply ‘I’ve only just gotten here myself’ even if you were super late, it’s a sign of my noble manly heart.”

“But wouldn’t that mean you were reeeeally late too….”

“There’s certain things you shouldn’t point out even if you notice, aren’t there?!”

This seemed to be an obligatory exchange. Subaru lectured her about its importance as she accompanied him, and when he was done he placed his hand on his jaw and started staring at her intently.

“Eh, what’s wrong? Do I look weird somehow?”

“The characters for weird and romance look quite similar, huh, but setting that aside, there’s only a tiny bit that’s weird about you, and that tiny bit is also charming in itself so it’s all good. More importantly, you’re looking extraordinarily cute today as well! … Have you dressed up a little more than usual today?”

Subaru, alert as he was, noticed the subtle changes in her hair, accessories, and so on. He accurately guessed where Puck had spent his efforts, surprising Emilia.

“You noticed? Puck was a lot more enthusiastic than usual today.”

“Ooh, great job! Not bad, Puck. And here I thought for sure that his feelings as a father would make him put up some resistance when it came to his daughter’s first date.”

“Yeah, he was reeeeally conflicted about it, but he’s sleeping in my crystal right now so you can relax.”

Emilia showed him the crystal on her chest with a faint smile, causing Subaru to don an expression of relief, “I see.” He then cleared his throat, and humbly bowed before her.

“Well then, I suppose this is the beginning of our first date. I consider it a great honor that you would allow me to escort you.”

His butler outfit was completely flawless from head to toe. Subaru didn’t really have much choice since he did not possess any other formal clothing, but to Emilia it truly seemed to fit this gesture.

Consequently, she obediently stood next to Subaru who was holding his elbow out to her, intending to link arms with her.

“Umm, is this okay?”

Her fingers grasped his cuff ever so slightly as she looked to him with upturned eyes and asked this. Puck had told her not to take his hand, so she was rather anxious wondering if this was okay. But in response, Subaru,

“This isn’t what I was hoping for, but that’s a performance beyond my expectations! Your loveliness truly is demonically inspired…”

Subaru covered his face with his palms and writhed around, it didn’t look like he was angry. Relieved by this, Emilia pulled on his cuff as she started walking.

“So, what exactly do you do on a ‘date’?”

“First of all, we’ll head to the village. After that, we’ll pay our respects to the dead… And then, how about going to see some flowers. Slowly, calmly, there’s no rush.”

Bathed in the warmth of his gaze, Emilia looked at his profile as he said this with a smile, after which she responded “That sounds nice” with a smile so lovely it was enchanting.

3

“Thank goodness the children seem alright. You seemed reeeeeally popular too, Subaru.”

“I wonder if that’s something to be so happy about, it’s actually pretty problematic in its own way, Emilia-tan.”

Subaru who muttered this with a grave expression was currently dusting off his butler outfit which was covered in dust and dirt.

When they first arrived in the village, the two set went to receive some flowers for their visit to the grave. Subaru had already asked the children to prepare a bouquet in advance.

There were no problems thus far, their troubles started after they had obtained the flowers.

Even the fact that he was on an important date had no meaning to these innocent children. Regrettably, Subaru ended up getting surrounded just like he usually did and was ultimately reduced to this wretched state that he always ended up in.

“Even with this, they were probably holding back because you were there. If it weren’t for that, I’d be going through something even more horrible right about now.”

“Come on, you’re exaggerating. Those kids just like you, isn’t that right.”

“If this were any other day, I would have snot spread all over my back right now. Fortunately, I was able to avoid that fate today.”

“That’s what usually happens?!”

Emilia suddenly started to gaze upon him with pity.

Forming a complicated expression in response to her sympathetic gaze, Subaru turned around somewhat exhausted and, “Ah.”

This caused Emilia to turn around as well, and there she found the children from the village who had been following them.

“Come on, you guys can’t tag along this time. I told you that Emilia and I were going to be having a thrilling, lascivious tryst, didn’t I? Get outta here, scram!”

“Ehh, what a tyrant.”

“Ehh, what a rude guy.”

“Ehh, what an unruly kid.”

“I’m no unruly brat. Also, we’re getting close to the barrier which if you remember you were forbidden from approaching. Unless you want to hear Muraosa’s long, boring, droning lectures, you’d better head back right now. Head back, and have fun playing that frozen demon game I taught you or something.”

[T/N: Frozen Demon = Freeze Tag]

Subaru waved his hand as if shooing away insects, causing the children to mutter complaints as they retreated.

Emilia watched this exchange as if she found it charming, but she suddenly realized that among the children, there was a cute girl staring directly at her.

She was a lovely girl with reddish brown hair and red cheeks like an appa. When her eyes met Emilia’s, she stuck her tongue out with a noise before she ran off.

“That Petra, what’s with that attitude of hers. I’ll be sure to give her a good talking to tomorrow. Are you alright, Emilia-tan? If the shock has rendered you unable to walk, I’m more than willing to princess carry you in my arms.”

“No, I’m used to it, so it’s fine. Something of that level isn’t anything worth making a fuss over.”

“Making a fuss, not something you hear very often these days… And I’m the one hurt by the statement that you’re used to this…”

“It’s fine. Come on, our ‘date’ isn’t over just yet. Let’s go.”

Emilia said this to Subaru whose face looked like he wasn’t telling her something, after which she immediately started walking. Subaru seemed a little troubled, but he ultimately ended up walking over to Emilia’s side without saying anything.

Emilia felt somewhat disgusted at herself for relying on his consideration like this

“―Alright, we’re here, we’re here.”.

After they walked a bit further, Subaru stopped and pointed at the trees.

At first glance they appeared to be a perfectly normal cluster of trees, but there were blue crystals embedded high up in their trunks, and the evenly spaced trees formed a barrier that responded to evil mana in the atmosphere ― Miasma.

The witchbeasts known as Ulgarm which had been inhabiting the forest were all wiped out, but it was very likely that a different type of witchbeast would soon take over the now empty territory. The barrier had not yet outlived its usefulness, and thus it was once again restored.

“We can’t enter, so sorry, but this is as far as we go.”

Standing right before the barrier, Subaru found a spot people weren’t likely to frequent and placed the bouquet there. Having done this, Subaru joined his hands and closed his eyes while still on his knees, and then lowered his head as if in prayer.

It was an unusual method of praying, it was her first time seeing such a thing. Perhaps it was a custom from his home town which he would not speak to her in detail about. Seeing this from the side, Emilia too placed her hand on her chest and prayed for them to rest in peace 

She had heard that all living things, even witchbeasts, would have their souls cleansed when they returned to the Od upon death. She hoped they could get along when they once again incarnated into this world in a new form.

That was a life lesson Emilia had picked up ― Someone had probably taught it to her.

“Sorry to make you play along with my self-satisfaction. It’s alright now, everything’s OK.”

Dusting off his knees, Subaru stood up and smiled at Emilia. Coming to her senses, Emilia confirmed that Subaru wasn’t forcing himself to smile after which she nodded, “Yeah.”

“So, what we’re doing next is… Visiting a field of flowers, is that right?”

Drawing up their ‘date’s’ itinerary in her mind, Emilia asked about their next destination. To confirm this, Subaru snapped his fingers in satisfaction,

“That’s right, a flower field. This is a pretty big deal in itself, you know?”

Saying this, he smiled with a playful expression that fanned the flames of her expectations even further.

4

Having left the forest, with her bangs dancing in the wind, Emilia could not suppress her voice of admiration.

“W-w… Wow!”

She advanced through the forest with Subaru leading her, and the greenery that had been blocking her view thus far cleared away in an instant. The vivid scenery filled her vision with endless, beautiful colors.

“How about it?! I was rather surprised myself when I first saw this, but… It really is pretty grand after all, isn’t it?”

She couldn’t even respond to Subaru who was boasting right beside her, her gaze was fixed on the scenery before her.

Red and yellow, white and blue, flowers were blooming all over the place, and none of them overwhelmed the others, the field of flowers was in complete harmony. The fact that a flower garden like this was formed naturally could only be called a miracle.

“This seems to be some sort of secret garden to those brats, I really had to work hard to get them to talk about it.”

“A wonderful place like this… How did you get them to tell you about it?”

“Hehe, it was all for my date with you. I suppose you could say it was a bit of compensation for letting them violate my rights as a human being for days on end.”

The conditions of this exchange probably resulted in Subaru getting covered in unfathomable amounts of dirt and snot.

While she certainly found this pitiable, she definitely could not forget about how deeply the scene before her eyes moved her.

Perhaps she was once again being spoiled by him. To have her chest filled with such pleasant emotions.

“― Also, this too is a present from me to you, Emilia-tan.”

And thus, Subaru said this to Emilia whose hand was against her chest as he extended his hands toward her. “Eh?”, Emilia was late to react as Subaru touched her silver hair,

“This is… An ornament, made of flowers?”

“It’s a crown of flowers, so to speak. Perhaps it’s not much compared to the real thing, but you could think of it as a rehearsal for when you one day ascend the throne? I definitely want to give you one adorned with the finest jewels by my own hand some day, but… For now, this is the best I can do.”

Subaru said this in a rather pompous tone as he winked at Emilia.

His actions caused Emilia to feel a slight throb in her chest. For some reason, her heart suddenly turned lively for a moment. She wondered what exactly that sensation was, strangely enough it did not occur again.

But she did know that it made her feel terribly warm, and it naturally brought a smile to her face.

“Thank you, Subaru.”

On that day, Emilia gave him her finest smile, and Subaru was so entranced he could not even speak.

Emilia felt immense gratitude toward Subaru and continued.

“If possible, I’d like to go on another ‘date’ with you sometime.”

This killer line of hers pierced his heart magnificently.

Side Stories