THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
Chapter 3 [Reunion and Passing]
——Slowly, focusing only on turning the doorknob in his hand, Subaru held his breath .
He had a feeling this was the one .
Quietly wandering through the mansion like this, he’d all of a sudden notice a door that particularly draws his attention .
Leaving Emilia and the others behind in the living room, having been granted a little bit of time, Subaru wandered through the mansion alone, and found it just as he set foot into the hallway on the second floor .
The moment he touched the doorknob, his suspicion turned into conviction, and as he started to push it open, there was not a single doubt in his mind .
And, taking in the existence of “that room”, in that place, at that very moment, he stepped inside,
[Subaru: Hey, it’s been a while]
The Forbidden Library, just as he remembered it, stretched out in front of his eyes .
The little girl, who is the master of that dimly lit room, hadn’t changed a bit either—— Sitting on a stepladder like it’s a makeshift chair, she was in the middle of leafing through a book .
[Beatrice: ——The mansion was noisy today, I figured you returned I suppose]
Her eyes lifted for a moment to take Subaru into her gaze . ——However, after muttering as if she was bored, she immediately lost interest, and dropped her eyes back into her book .
[Beatrice: If you’re back, that means Nii-cha must be back as well . I sense that girl, and a few other annoying insects as well I suppose]
[Subaru: Puck hasn’t shown up yet, he’s recharging his batteries I think . Ah, I don’t like how you talk about Emilia-tan like she’s in the same category you know! Though I don’t mind the part about Otto]
[Beatrice: You’re really noisy]
Beatrice huffed her nose at Subaru’s smalltalk, and rearranged her legs under her extravagant dress . Seeing that, Subaru continued to walk closer, stringing words together as he did so .
[Subaru: But it sure has been a long time since I saw you . Since that time with Bete… Ah, wait, that didn’t happen… the last time was before I left for the Capital wasn’t it? It’s about ten days now…]
[Beatrice: Not long at all I suppose . While Betty is in this room, the flow of time outside really doesn’t matter that much]
[Subaru: And there you are saying strange things again, geez . Also, when you’re talking with someone, you really shouldn’t have your nose buried in a book you know! Seeing me again after ten days, I’d understand if you’re so happy that you want to hide your blush but still…]
[Beatrice: I can make your mouth spit blood instead of noise until you turn pale in the face, you know]
At the girl’s unhidden annoyance, Subaru loosened the tension in his face .
Whenever he comes to talk with the girl guarding the Forbidden Library, Subaru couldn’t help but want to do things to poke at her stubborn attitude and mess up that deadpan expression of hers .
Cracking jokes and clowning around, annoying her until she gets really pissed off, then keep prodding her until she finally couldn’t stand it anymore and throws him out .
There is a part of himself that thoroughly enjoys those exchanges . But just why does he always have this feeling towards her, he isn’t quite sure if he knows .
[Beatrice: I take the fact that you’ve returned as a sign that the recent disturbances around here have settled, I suppose]
[Subaru: You noticed…… Well that’s only natural I guess . Emilia and Ram ran around all over the mansion looking for you, you know? It would be nice to apologize to them later]
[Beatrice: Betty? Apologize? To whom, and for what, I can’t imagine why I should do such a thing]
Huffing with her perfectly formed nose, Beatrice closed her book with a loud clap, and rose from her seat on the stepladder . Then, putting the thickly bound book back onto its shelf, on tip-toes, she stretched as hard as she could to reach for the one right next to it .
Seeing she was having trouble getting it out, Subaru walked up beside her .
[Subaru: This one? Here]
[Beatrice: ……No, it’s the one next to it I suppose . If you’re trying to give help that people haven’t asked for, at least try to help them correctly]
[Subaru: Such a thankful loli… Oy, careful not to drop it . You will get hurt if this brick falls on your toes]
As Subaru was pulling out the book with one hand, he found it surprisingly heavy . Once he had carefully handed it over to her, Beatrice accepted it, hugging it to her chest . Subaru briefly tried to read the title, but as someone who could barely understand anything beyond the “Yi” alphabets, it was too far beyond Subaru’s ability to comprehend .
[Beatrice: I don’t think I will thank you I suppose]
[Subaru: I know you’re trying to follow the tsundere path and all, but frankly, you saying that and you just straight up saying “Thank you” pretty much carry the same meaning at this point]
At least, the fact that she’d acknowledge that his actions would be generally considered worthy of thanks, was in itself a testament to her good will .
In response to Subaru’s retort, Beatrice frowned and turned her face to the side . Seeing her obstinate attitude, Subaru scratched his head,
[Subaru: I don’t mind if you never thank me until the end of time, but make sure to at least thank those two, ok? They were really worried, leaving you behind in the mansion]
[Beatrice: It’s not like I ever asked them to…]
[Subaru: Don’t say something lame like that . Most people never asked to be born but are born anyway, and even if you don’t want people to worry about you they will still worry . ……And that second part is only true when you have kind hearted people around you]
There was no need to specify that Emilia and Ram were that kind of people . Emilia’s everyday way of life pretty much gives her a good-person score of 100 out of 100, although Ram’s score would probably go into negative numbers, how she is on the inside is a different matter .
Regardless, Beatrice didn’t show any sign of agreeing with him . Instead, turning away, she bit her lip slightly and said,
[Beatrice: But in the end, they still left the mansion I suppose…… without Betty]
[Subaru: What do you mean? Are you trying to say you didn’t want to be left behind? You cut yourself off with that Hikikomori Door spell, far away, would it have been too troublesome to come out yourself?]
[Beatrice: It’s “Door Crossing” . Don’t change it to a ridiculous name like that I suppose . Besides, such a suggestion is insulting to Betty]
Without acknowledging Subaru’s words, Beatrice continued facing to the side, her obstinate attitude unbroken . He sensed this time there was something different, and dangerous, beyond her usual act . Subaru furrowed his brows and didn’t know what to do .
With her acting like this even before they’d started talking about what he had actually come here to ask her, he wondered how he could bring it up now . Even so, perhaps he still had one more trick up his sleeve to lift up her mood……
[Subaru: Oh well . If you’re going to be that stubborn, I’ll just tell Emilia-tan that you wouldn’t stop repeating “thank you” with tears of gratitude streaming from your eyes]
[Beatrice: You shouldn’t make up lies?! It’s been a very long time since I last shed a tear I suppose]
[Subaru: What, you’re saying you’re too embarrassed to cry? If you say that kind of thing while you’re still a kid, you’re gonna find it hard to express your emotions when you grow up you know? Kids shouldn’t worry about what other people think and just cry when they’re sad]
[Beatrice: I have some reservations listening to this coming from a man who cried his heart out on the lap of the woman he likes]
[Subaru: Can’t you please forget about that!?]
Perhaps Emilia herself knew not to remind Subaru of this embarrassing history .
He was acting like an idiot to distract himself from the dread he carried deep inside his heart, unconsciously building up an increasingly unsustainable dam .
Lying on Emilia’s lap, all this collapsed, and all the emotions he had been bottling up ever since first being summoned to this world came rushing out in a flood of tears .
Reminded of that time again, his face felt like it was about to burst into flame . Although, along with that heat, deep within his heart he also felt a radiant light shining from that memory .
Scratching at his cheek, while trying to redo the seal on that particular memory, Subaru snuck a quick glance at Beatrice . Looking bored as always, she had sat back down on the stepladder with the book Subaru had retrieved for her . She had just slowly started letting her eyes run over its contents .
She was clearly trying to shut off any further conversation, but if he were to let her do that, there would be no meaning in him coming here in the first place .
[Subaru: Anyway, putting crying or not aside…… I have something I want to ask you, is that ok?]
[Beatrice: You’re free to ask I suppose]
Within her reply, accompanied by the sound of a page turning over in her book, there was the unspoken message “whether I answer or not is another story” . There was no indication of cooperation from her, but at least she gave him permission to ask . Subaru quietly mumbled [alright then] under his breath and, intending to breach the subject of his visit—— .
[Subaru: ——Come to think of it, considering all that commotion was going on outside, wasn’t your reaction kind of lacking?]
However, what came out of his mouth didn’t carry the meaning he had intended, and instead only served to reignite the conversation he had just tried to close off .
Hearing Subaru’s words, Beatrice raised her eyes from her book . Sensing his reflection within her clear, immaculate gaze, Subaru sucked in a small breath,
[Subaru: Wh… while you were sitting in here acting like nothing was happening, it was getting pretty crazy outside you know? This strange group of guys had the mansion surrounded, and……]
[Beatrice: Stop it]
[Subaru: If I hadn’t somehow managed to bring back reinforcements with me from the Capital, you have no idea what would have happened . And, it’s not like it was easy for me to make my way back here……]
[Beatrice: I really want you to stop now I suppose]
[Subaru: It was actually a journey so rough, if I were to tell it to you, both you and I would be in tears by the end, but having finally cleared that hurdle……!]
With a loud, cracking noise, Subaru’s rant was forcibly cut off .
Looking around, the source of the sound was the book Beatrice had been holding in her hands, which she had slammed shut with all her strength . Subaru tried to understand Beatrice’s expression, and her intentions, but she turned to face him with a sharp and merciless glare, and said,
[Beatrice: How about you say what you actually came here to say, you spineless coward]
He couldn’t deny it .
She was right, and had clearly seen through Subaru’s attempt to run away . To run away from the answer to the question he knew he had to ask .
[Subaru: Do you…]
Gulping down his breath, he squeezed shut his eyes, listening to the beating of his heart .
Beyond his closed eyelids, he saw her sweet smile, smiling back at him .
[Subaru: Do you… remember Rem?]
——His question became sound and, having exploded into reality, could no longer be taken back .