Chapter Two: Louise’s Lovesickness
The morning after her return from Albion, Louise’s attitude began to change. To put it bluntly, she became nicer. As usual, after waking up, Saito prepared the wash basin for Louise. He poured water into the basin and then washed Louise's face. It was troublesome, but if Saito forgot about the wash basin, severe consequences would follow.
Once, when Saito forgot to prepare the wash basin, he wasn’t allowed to eat. The next morning, he was quite angry, so he caught a frog from the pond behind the Academy of Magic and put it in the wash basin. Louise, who hated frogs, squealed at the sight of the slimy amphibian. She burst into tears when it suddenly appeared in front of her. Saito apologized profusely, but Louise did not forgive him for making her cry.
That time, unsatisfied with merely starving Saito, Louise tried whipping him, and as a result, Saito escaped the room and slept outside.
They would get into fights just like the one with the wash basin, but after going to Albion something changed. Warm feelings towards Saito started to sprout within Louise and vice versa. However, they did not realize each other’s feelings.
In the morning, Saito prepared the wash basin, feeling slightly awkward. Louise sat on her bed with a drowsy look.
With the wash basin placed on the floor, Saito scooped up water with both hands, but Louise didn’t move. Her pinkish blond hair dangled on her face. Seemingly tired, she rubbed her eyes. With an absent minded expression, she said, “Leave it there, I’ll do it myself.”
Saito was shocked. He didn’t think the words “I’ll do it myself” could come from Louise’s mouth.
Saito waved his hand in front of her face. Louise pouted, facing away. She was blushing. As if she was angry, Louise said, “I’ll do it myself. Leave me alone.”
Louise dipped her hand in the wash basin, scooped up water, shook her head, and washed her face. Water splattered everywhere.
“So, you’re the type that likes to move their face while they wash it, huh?”
Louise was slightly taken aback by Saito's comment. Her face blushed and she became angry. “G-Got a problem with that?”
“No, not at all…”
Saito then took Louise’s clothes from her closet and laid them face down on her bed, while Louise put on her underwear. Saito, holding Louise's uniform, turned around when he thought she was done. The next step was dressing Louise.
When Saito turned around, Louise, wearing only her underwear, started to panic and quickly covered her body with sheets.
“Leave the clothes there,” said Louise, with half her face covered by the sheets.‘’What happened?’’ thought Saito. ‘’She would normally say something like ‘Quickly dress me...’ with a sleepy face. What's more, she's hiding behind the sheets. Normally, she wouldn’t care about being seen. Why is she so embarrassed?’’
“Leave it there? Um... are you sure?”
Louise popped her head up above the sheets. “I said leave it there, didn’t I?!”
Louise then buried half of her face in the sheets again and glared at Saito.
Well this is strange, thought Saito as he placed the clothes beside Louise as he was told.
“Face that way.”
“I said face that way.”
It seemed as if she was the type of person who didn’t want to be seen while changing. That's a very normal reaction for adolescent girls; however, Louise had been fine being seen in the past.
Saito turned his back to Louise thinking, What the hell happened?
Well, many things happened in Albion. Her fiancé had betrayed her and Henrietta. Her childhood friend. She had lost her lover. It was a horrible experience for Louise. Perhaps those events had changed her.
Had Louise really changed?
With an expressionless face, Saito remembered the feeling of Louise’s lips. He had kissed a half-asleep Louise softly on the lips while on the dragon. He knew that kissing someone in their sleep is cowardly and something that he ought not to have done, but he couldn’t control himself. He cared a great deal about her.
Could it be…, Saito thought. That Louise knows about that kiss? She didn’t change because she felt I was dangerous and thought I was going to make a move on her, right?
Saito stopped his thoughts abruptly and shook his head. If Louise had been awake at that time, she wouldn’t have kept quiet. She'd wake up. Get angry. Abuse. Any sense of harmony would have exploded into bits. Events like the time when I crept into her bed were horrible, weren’t they? A dog. That’s me, a dog. A dog that is led by a chain and goes ‘woof’.
Ah. I see now. Saito finally realized. She feels uneasy because I crept into her bed two nights before we left for Albion while she was sleeping. This isn’t about the kiss at all. Ah, that’s why she doesn’t want my help changing anymore.
Saito felt somewhat disheartened. In fact, he was deeply regretful. If only he hadn’t done such a thing. ‘’She doesn’t want me making a move on her. Well that’s only natural, but it means she doesn’t like me. That’s also natural I guess…’’
‘’It is only natural… yet saddening.’’
‘’A ray of hope? Nope. None. Louise doesn’t like me. I’m only a familiar. That being said, I’ve only been a dangerous familiar so far. A bad familiar that transforms into a wolf at night. A barrier has already been erected between us.’’
Dark clouds started forming. The hope inside Saito’s heart whispered desperately, “But on the way back home on the dragon, she cuddled with me, right?” The despair within Saito’s heart replied coldly, "That was just my imagination. She sent me flying when Kirche pointed it out, didn’t she?"
‘’… Ah, that’s right. There’s no mistake about it. Louise doesn’t think anything of me.’’
Realizing his own feelings for Louise, misery overwhelmed Saito. Saito had a personality where once excited, he would become extremely excited, but when depressed, he would become excessively depressed.
“What are you whispering about?”
Saito had not realized he was whispering. When he turned around, Louise, who had already finished changing, looked into his face dubiously.
After a mere twenty seconds of thought, he had reached his conclusion. Feeling dispirited, Saito replied in a sickly voice, “Sorry. I won’t talk to myself again.”
“Yes, it’s somewhat revolting.”
Louise, looking dubiously at Saito, walked out. “Come on, let’s go for breakfast.”
“Yeah,” Saito followed after her, depressed.
Even in the Alviss Dining Hall, something surprising occurred.
Saito sat down on the floor as always, but his plate of soup was not there. Saito grew impatient. Did I do anything to make Louise angry enough to not feed me? No, I don’t think so.
Last night, after the five of them returned to the academy, they reported to Osman. Osman, who had already heard from Henrietta, thanked and praised them for their efforts.
Then they had returned to their rooms … and quickly fallen asleep. Saito hadn't done anything to anger Louise. With a miserable look on his face, Saito looked up at Louise, who was sitting on a chair.
Louise started blushing and while turning away she said, “From now on, eat at the table.”
“Eh?” Saito looked blankly at Louise. That was very unexpected of Louise.
“Come on, sit down quickly.”
Dumbfounded, he sat next to Louise. Malicorne, who always sat there and had caught a cold, started to protest, “Hey Louise, that’s my seat. What do you mean you’ll let your familiar sit on it?”
Louise glared at Malicorne. “If you don’t have a seat, then just go get a chair.”
“Don’t play around with me! Letting a commoner familiar sit down while I have to go get a chair? That’s just wrong! Hey familiar, piss off, that’s my seat. This is a dining table for nobles!”
The chubby Malicorne tried to look intimidating, but he was trembling slightly. This was the legendary familiar who supposedly defeated Guiche and caught Fouquet. What's more, it seemed they had accomplished some incredible feat while they were away from the academy the past couple of days. Malicorne was covered in cold sweat when he told Saito off.
Saito, feeling extremely down due to the growing wall between Louise and him, reacted to the pestering voice. He stood up and grabbed Malicorne’s collar.
He didn’t use much force, but whispered in a threatening voice, “Hey fatty, what'd you say?”
Terrified, Malicorne dropped his act and shook his head repeatedly, “A-Ah, nothing, I didn’t mean it!”
“I didn’t mean it, sir.”
“Y-yes, I didn’t mean it, sir!”
“Then go get a chair. Let’s eat happily together.”
Malicorne rushed off to get a chair. With an unconcerned look, Louise was waiting for the prayer time before the meal. I wonder what happened. What change of heart is this? Why is she being so nice? Surely there’s a reason. Nope, he thought, The trip to Albion changed Louise.
It must be … after seeing people injured and killed, these warm feelings must have started to blossom within her. This reminded Saito of the story about General Tokugawa Tsunayoshi of the Edo period and his command to be compassionate towards animals. The dog shogun took pity on a stray dog, and punished those who bullied it.
So that’s it.
The command to be compassionate towards animals has been set upon Tristain.
The law setter: Louise Françoise le Blanc de la Vallière.
The object: familiars, as well as dogs- myself in other words.
Saito stopped his imagination and looked at Louise warmly.
You’ve become nicer haven’t you Louise, more like a girl. You’re dazzling like this. Being so nice to someone like me… You’re growing up like a girl.
I’ll watch over you carefully - I won’t make a move on you ever again. Until I return to Earth, I will protect you. Even if you don’t like me, I’m happy that you’re being so nice to me.
Her radiance mixing in with his sadness and despair, Saito smiled warmly. Louise noticed Saito watching her intently and blushed, “W-Why are you looking at me like that?”
Noticing the vile way he was looking at her, Saito averted his eyes and tightened his hands into fists on his knees. Listen carefully, Saito. Nobles aren’t for dogs like you. Compared to Louise, who’s so beautiful and pure, you are just a homely mole. There’s no way a mole can look at such a cute girl in a decent way.
The thoughts repeated in his mind. Saito’s poignancy quickly consumed him, like a bottomless swamp. Saito obediently whispered, “Sorry for being so repulsive.”
Louise quickly turned the other way.
Ugh, she must think I’m weird. The master thinks this mole is weird.
Saito stared at the food on the plate with a dull face. It was a luxurious meal, but the colors of it seemed to fade before his eyes.
The usual prayer proceeded and breakfast began. Saito quietly ate his food. It was delicious, but he was so miserable he could not taste it.
When Louise entered the classroom, she was quickly surrounded by her classmates. There were rumours that she had been on a dangerous journey and had accomplished great feats during her absence.
The truth was that a number of students were watching the spectacle where the leader of the Magic Defence Squad had departed. It wasn’t a quiet scene. They were all eager to know what happened and they would have asked her during breakfast too if it weren’t for the teachers.
Kirche and Tabitha were already seated. They, too, were surrounded by a group of students.
“Hey, when you and Louise were absent from class, where did you all go?” asked Montmorency, grasping her arm.
Glancing at her, Kirche elegantly started redoing her make-up and Tabitha quietly sat while reading her book. Tabitha didn’t talk much. As for Kirche, although she usually was in the mood to talk, today she didn't feel like telling her classmates about their secret journey.
No matter how hard their classmates pushed and pulled, they couldn’t extract anything out of the two, so they switched their target to Guiche and Louise, who had just appeared.
Guiche, who liked being surrounded and fussed over, got carried away as expected. “You want to ask me, right? You want to know the secrets I know? Ahaha, what a troubled little rabbit!”
Louise broke through the crowd of people and smacked Guiche over the head. “What do you think you’re doing?! You’ll be hated by the Princess if you say anything, Guiche.”
With a single reference to Henrietta, Guiche became silent at once. Their classmates grew even more suspicious upon seeing this. They surrounded Louise and started pestering her.
“Louise! Louise! What actually happened?”
“Nothing at all. Osman just sent me to the palace on an errand, that’s all. Right Guiche, Kirche, Tabitha?”
Kirche smiled mysteriously while blowing on her polished nails. Guiche nodded. Tabitha read her book. Since no one was willing to speak, their classmates returned to their seats. Like a group of sore losers, they started to talk about Louise angrily.
“Heh, it’s probably nothing important anyway.”
“Yeah, it’s Louise the Zero we’re talking about here. I can’t imagine what great feat she could possibly accomplish when she can’t even use magic.”
“Catching Fouquet was only a fluke. Her familiar just accidentally drew out the power of the Staff of Destruction,” Montmorency said irritatingly, waving her curly hair.
Louise bit her lip, wearing an annoyed expression on her face whilst keeping silent. Saito was shocked. How dare this curly-haired woman insult my Louise? Well, not ‘my’ Louise I guess. A mole like me could never have Louise. Oh well. Even if it’s a girl, Saito would do what he had to do.
Just as Montmorency walked off with a satisfied look on her face, Saito casually stuck his foot out. Montmorency didn’t notice and tripped over Saito’s foot.
Montmorency, sporting a red nose from falling face-first to the ground, angrily shouted at Saito.
“What are you doing? I’m a noble! How dare a commoner like you trip me!”
Louise said from the side, “It was you who wasn’t paying attention.”
“What? Siding with the commoner now, Louise the Zero?!”
“Saito may be a commoner, but he’s also my familiar, Montmorency the Flood. Insult him and you insult me; it’s the same thing. Have anything to say to that?”
Montmorency left, muttering angrily to herself. To Saito, Louise, who had just stuck up for him, was suddenly dazzling and he found himself staring at her warmly. Louise felt his gaze and turned her face aside, blushing, “W-What are you looking at?”
Saito, yet again realizing his repulsive stare, apologized to Louise. This homely mole has done it again.
Louise noticed that Saito had been acting strange since morning. He was more reserved than usual. What more do you want, I’m being so nice to you.
Louise was about to say something to Saito about it, but then, Mr. Colbert entered the classroom, so she sat back down. Class started.
“Well, everyone,” Mr. Colbert patted his bald head slightly. Until yesterday, he had been frightened that Fouquet the Crumbling Dirt had broken out of prison. Immediately, the initial conclusion was that there was a traitor in the castle. He thought that it was a serious affair for Tristain.
This morning however, Osman summoned him, telling him that it was “alright already” and he returned to his normal self. Besides, things like politics did not interest him much.
What he did have interest in was knowledge, history and … research. That’s why he liked lessons. He could freely state the results of his research. And so, on a joyful note, he showed the class something strange that he placed on the desk.
“Mr. Colbert, what’s that?” one student asked.
It really was a strange looking machine. It was composed of a long metallic tube with a metallic pipe stretching out of it. A pair of bellows were connected to the pipe and a crank was attached to the head of the cylinder. The crank was connected to a wheel on the side of the cylinder. Finally, gears were attached to the wheel and the box.
Staring at the equipment, the students were all wondering what sort of lesson would follow. Clearing his throat, he began his lecture, “Firstly, who can tell me the main characteristics of the fire branch of magic?”
The class turned to Kirche. If you were talking about the fire branch of magic in Halkeginia, then you would be referencing Germanian nobles. Among them, the Zerbsts were a famous family. As her nickname, Ardent, indicated, she was adept at fire magic.
Even though class had started, Kirche still continued to polish her nails. Without taking her eyes off the nail file, she replied languidly, “Passion and destruction.”
“That’s right!” said Mr. Colbert, himself a triangular fire mage whose nickname was 'Flame Serpent'.
“However, besides passion, only being able to destroy is a bit lonely, I think. It depends on the usage, everyone. Depending on how you use it, you can actually do some really fun things. Fire is not only for destruction, Miss Zerbst. A battlefield is not the only place where you will see it.”
“There’s no use in trying to explain fire magic to Tristain nobles,” Kirche said, filled with confidence. Mr. Colbert was not agitated by her arrogance, but smiled instead.
“But, what’s that strange thing you have there?” Kirche asked with a blank look, pointing at the equipment on the desk.
“Hehe. So you finally asked. This is something I invented. It works using oil and fire magic.” The students gaped, staring at the mechanism intently. The mechanism seemed somewhat familiar to Saito, as if he had seen it somewhere before. Being a curious person, he too remained silent and watched intently.
Mr. Colbert continued, “First, we vaporize the oil in the bellows.” He stepped repeatedly on the bellows with his foot. “And then, the vaporized oil will go into this cylindrical tube.”
With a cautious look, Colbert stuck his wand inside a small hole he had opened. He recited an incantation. The sound of a blazing fire could suddenly be heard, and as the fire ignited the vaporized oil, the sounds changed into that of explosions.
“Watch carefully everyone! Inside the metallic tube, the power from the explosions are moving the piston up and down!”
The crank attached to the top of the cylinder started to move and the wheel along with it. The spinning wheel opened the door on the box. The gears began moving and a snake puppet came out from inside.
“The power is transferred to the crank which spins the wheel! Look! The snake then comes out to greet us! How interesting!”
The students watched it unenthusiastically. The only one interested seemed to be Saito.
“And then? What’s so special about that?”
Mr. Colbert was sad at the fact that the invention he took so much pride in had been totally chastised. Clearing his throat, he began to explain, “In this example, only a snake showed up, but say for instance this mechanism was placed on a carriage. Then, the carriage could move even without horses! It would also work on the side of a boat by turning a water wheel. Then there wouldn’t be any need for sails!”
“You could just use magic in those cases. There’s no need to use such a weird mechanism.”After one student said that, the others started to nod in agreement.
“Everybody, listen carefully! If it is improved upon, this could run machines even without magic! I relied on my fire magic to ignite it, but say flint was used and a way to ignite it every so often was found…” Colbert was obviously getting excited, talking on and on, while the students were all wondering what was so special about it. The only one who seemed to understand the greatness of his invention seemed to be Saito.
“Mr Colbert, that’s great! That’s an engine!” Saito called up while standing all of a sudden. The whole class turned to him.
“Engine?” Mr. Colbert looked at Saito with a blank look.
“Yes, an engine. It’s used in my world for functions you just mentioned.”
“I can tell you’re a perceptive person. You’re Miss Vallière’s familiar, yes?”
The fact that he was the legendary familiar Gandálfr who had runes on the back of his hand suddenly came back to Mr. Colbert. He had forgotten since Osman had said to leave it to him … but due to his enthusiasm he started to hold an interest in Saito.
“Where were you born?” he asked eagerly.
Louise tugged at Saito’s parka slightly and glared at him. “Don’t say anything unnecessary, we’ll look suspicious.”
Agreeing, Saito sat back down.
“Hmm? Where were you born?” Colbert approached Saito with a bright expression. Louise answered for him.
“Mr Colbert, he’s uh… from Rub' al Khali in the East.
Mr. Colbert was taken aback. “What?! Past the frightening lands of the elves? Wait, he was summoned wasn’t he… so he didn’t have to go through those lands… I see. I hear that the lands the Elves govern in the East have advanced technology. So you were born there… I see,” he nodded in comprehension.
Saito turned to Louise.
“Just play along,” said Louise, stepping on his foot.
“A, Ah yes. I’m from um… Rub'.”
Mr. Colbert nodded again and returned to the mechanism. Standing on the platform once more he looked around the classroom.
“Alright then, who would like to try operating the mechanism? It’s very simple! Just open the hole in the cylinder, put your wand in and recite the ‘ignite’ spell repeatedly. The timing is a bit tricky but once you get used to it, it will be easy like this,” Mr. Colbert stepped on the bellows with his foot and operated the mechanism once more. The explosive sounds echoed throughout the classroom while the crank and gears moved, followed by the snake showing its face.
“And the joyful snake greets us!”
No one raised their hand. Mr. Colbert tried to get the students interested in his mechanism by saying “joyful snake”, but it didn’t quite work. Disappointed, Colbert drooped his shoulders.
Montmorency, suddenly pointed at Louise, “Louise, you try it!”
Mr. Colbert’s face lit up, “Miss Vallière! You have an interest in the mechanism?”
“Catching Fouquet the Crumbling Dirt and journeying to dangerous places, surely you won’t have trouble with something like this right?”
Louise realized Montmorency was trying to embarrass her by making her fail.
It seemed Montmorency didn’t like Louise getting all the attention, such as accomplishing great feats and being the star at balls. Her jealousy was deep and the fact that she was a show off suddenly came back to Louise.
Montmorency continued provoking Louise, “Hey, do it Louise. Louise the Zero.”
Something in Louise cracked. She just couldn’t keep quiet when Montmorency called her Zero. Louise silently stood up and approached the platform.
Seeing Louise in this state, Saito glared at Montmorency, “Hey Monmon.”
“It’s Montmorency for God’s sake!”
“Don’t provoke Louise! It’ll end up as an explosion!” said Saito, without thinking.
Louise shifted her eyes at Saito's comment. The front row students hid behind their chairs.
Hearing the comment, Mr. Colbert remembered Louise’s skill and the origin of her nickname. Trying to desperately change her mind, he began to persuade her in a flustered manner.
“Ah, Miss Vallière. Er, you can do it another time, alright?”
“I have been insulted by Montmorency the Flood,” said Louise in a cold voice. Her reddish brown pupils were filled with rage.
“I shall discipline Miss Montmorency. So, er, could you please withdraw your wand? I do not doubt your skill, but magic doesn’t always succeed. I mean, ‘a dragon can also die from fire’, after all.”
Louise looked sharply at Colbert, “Please let me do it. I do not always fail. Occasionally, I succeed.”
“There are times when I, occasionally, succeed,” said Louise, as though the words were meant for herself, her voice trembling. Saito knew there was no stopping Louise now. When Louise was extremely irked, her voice would start to shake.
Mr. Colbert looked up at the ceiling and sighed.
Louise copied Mr. Colbert actions and stepped on the bellows. The vaporized oil was sent to the cylinder. She took a deep breath and stuck her wand inside the cylinder.
“Miss Vallière, uhh …” whispered Mr. Colbert as if he was praying.
With a voice as clear as a bell, she started to recite the spell incantation.
The whole class froze.
As expected, the mechanism exploded. Louise and Mr. Colbert were sent flying towards the black board while the class screamed. The explosion splattered the burning oil throughout the room. The students ran around chaotically, avoiding the flames.
As the chair and table were burning, Louise stood up slowly. It was a pitiful sight. Her clothes were scorched and her clear complexion was covered in soot. Totally ignoring the chaos within the classroom, she grabbed Mr. Colbert’s arm and whispered, “Mr. Colbert. That machine of yours breaks quite easily.”
Mr Colbert didn’t reply, feeling faint headed. The students replied for him, “It’s you who broke it! You Zero! Louise the Zero!”
“Never mind that, there’s a fire! Someone put it out!”
Montmorency stood up and recited a spell. It was the water spell ‘Water Shield’. The barrier of water extinguished the fire and the students applauded Montmorency. Montmorency, as if she had triumphed, said to Louise, “I wonder if that was unnecessary. After all, you’re such a skilled mage and that was such a weak fire.”
Angry, Louise bit her lip.
It was night by the time the classroom was cleaned up. Tidying up the chairs and desks and wiping the floor was a big task. Exhausted, Louise and Saito returned to their room. Saito collapsed on his haystack. Louise sat down on her bed. It was almost time for bed. Out of habit, Saito went to the closet to get Louise’s clothes. Louise, however, suddenly stood up.
“W-What are you doing?”
Louise blushed and did not reply. Her hands gripped the sheets and she started hanging them from her bedposts. The sheets acted as a curtain and hid her bed. Watching Saito out of the corner of her eyes, she went to the closet, found her clothes, and returned to bed. Saito could hear the ruffling of clothes as she changed behind the curtain. Depressed, Saito returned to his haystack.
She doesn’t want to be seen by someone like me. Even if I see you, I won’t do anything strange. I won’t even look anymore. I’m not the hungry wolf you think I am … I’m a mole. Well, you were kissed by a mole, but that was when I got carried away, I made a mistake. I won’t ever do it again, Louise. I’ll watch over you properly. This homely mole will watch over you from this haystack.
Saito endlessly tortured himself with these thoughts. The curtain was taken down. Wearing a negligee, Louise was bathed in moonlight, her hair flowing smoothly. The brilliant moonlight accentuated her divine beauty. After combing her hair with her hands, she lay down and switched off the lamp on her bedside table with a flick of her wand. It was a magic lamp that would switch off at the signal of its master. It wasn’t exactly special, but it seemed like something expensive. With the moonlight bathing the room, the atmosphere felt ethereal.
Just as Saito was about to fall asleep, Louise sat up and called out, “Hey, Saito.”
“Always sleeping on the floor is a bit extreme …you can, er, sleep on the bed if you want.”
Saito’s body stiffened, “W-What?”
“Don’t get the wrong idea! I’ll hit you if you do anything strange.”
Saito was overwhelmed. ‘’Ah, Louise you really are kind, aren’t you. It’s like you’ve changed completely. That harsh experience really did change you…You’re even becoming kind to a disgusting mole like me.’’ With every inch closer to the bed, his pulse seemed to double. Louise faced the window, wrapped up in the blanket on the edge of the bed.
“Is it… ok? Even for me? A mole?”
“Yes, it’s ok, don’t make me say the same thing. What do you mean a mole?”
Saito slipped into the bed and covered himself with the blanket.
He had to apologize for getting carried away and kissing her. He felt he had to. Saito whispered, “Sorry … for kissing you like that.”
Louise didn’t reply.
Saito thought she was sleeping, but it didn’t sound like it. Saito continued, “I've … decided before then that I would protect you as I had promised Prince Wales.”
“Not only from enemies, but also from my own desires as well. I can’t say I’ve done a good job of protecting you so far, so, I’m sorry.” said Saito, who was now clearly voicing his thoughts.
Louise replied in a small voice, ”It’s fine, don’t worry about it.”
Saito grasped the blanket and whispered, “I won’t do it again.”
“Of course.” replied Louise.
She started to talk, as if determined to tell Saito something.
“...but, I too have to apologize. Sorry, for just summoning you.”
“That’s ok. It’s not good, but it’s alright.”
“I’ll find a way for you to return home. I don’t know how, but I will. I've never heard of another world before.”
“Thanks,” Saito felt relieved.
Squirming a bit, Louise asked Saito, “Your world … there aren’t any mages there right?”
“There’s only one moon?”
“No it’s not, it’s this world that’s weird, mages and stuff.”
“What were you doing in that world?”
“I was a high school student.”
“High school student?”
“Well it’s not much different from being a student here, I guess. Studying is kind of your job.”
“What do people do when they grow up?”
Louise started to bombard Saito with questions. While wondering why, Saito replied, “Hmm, a company employee perhaps, that’s the most common.”
“What’s a company employee?”
He became slightly irritated, but replied, “You work and you earn money.”
“I don’t really understand … but is that what you want to become?”
Saito remained silent. He hadn’t thought of what he wanted to do in the future. He spent his days doing what he liked. His future was neither bright nor dark. Thinking this state of affairs would last forever, he just absentmindedly attended school. Saito was a bit troubled by his reply, “I dunno. I haven’t really thought about it.”
“Wardes said you were a legendary familiar. Those runes on the back of your hand are apparently the mark of Gandálfr.”
“I don’t really understand, but it seems that Gandálfr is meant to use the sword Derflinger.”
“I wonder if that’s true…”
“Well it has to be, I couldn’t use a sword like Derflinger normally.”
“Then, why can’t I use magic? You’re a legendary familiar, yet I’m Louise the Zero. Ugh.”
“I don’t know.”
Louise remained silent for a while. Then she spoke in a serious tone, “You know, I want to become a great mage. I don’t mean a very powerful mage. I just want to be able to cast spells properly. I don’t want to fail every spell I cast and not even know which branch of magic I’m good at.”
Saito remembered the class they had earlier. As usual, Louise had failed.
“Ever since I was small, I was told I was hopeless. My father and mother didn’t expect anything of me. I was always treated like an idiot, always called Zero … I really don’t have any skill. There isn’t a branch of magic that I’m good at. I’m even clumsy at reciting incantations. I get it. My teachers, mother and sisters have said it. When you recite an incantation for a spell in your branch of magic, something within your body responds and it circulates within your body. When that rhythm is at a climax, it means that the spell is completed. I have never felt that before.”
Louise’s voice became smaller, “But, I want to at least be able to do things like everyone else. Otherwise, I get the feeling I won’t be content with myself.”
Louise became silent once more. Saito did not know what to say to comfort her. Some time passed before Saito began to speak.
“Even if you can’t use magic … you’re normal. Not just normal … you’re cute. And you’ve been so kind recently as well. You have your own qualities. Even if you can’t use magic, you’re a great person…”
Ending his incoherent reply, Saito turned towards Louise. She had already fallen asleep. Her innocent face took his breath away. It seemed she had drifted off while Saito was thinking of his reply. Her pinkish blond hair mixed with the moonlight, shining brightly. Steady breathing could be heard from her small pink lips.
Looking at those lips, he wanted to press his lips against hers once more and, without even realizing it, he started to move his face forward. But, he stopped. It's cowardly to kiss a girl who isn't even his lover while she is sleeping. I’m not your lover… but I will protect you. So don’t worry Louise.
Smiling warmly at Louise, Saito closed his eyes. With Louise’s breathing as a lullaby, Saito fell asleep.
Louise opened her eyes once Saito had fallen asleep. She knit her eyebrows and whispered, “I was even pretending to sleep”. Louise hugged her pillow, and bit her lips. It’s so different, she thought. When he was making a move on her, he did it rashly like an idiot and yet when he’s obedient, he’s totally obedient.
I don’t understand. I don’t understand what he’s thinking at all. Louise rested her hands on her chest. When Saito was next to her, her chest really did throb. So these feelings really are true?
She wanted to return the favour to Saito, who had been so kind and had saved her so many times… But that wasn’t the only thing. It was the first time she had felt these feelings for someone of the opposite sex and she didn’t know what to do. She didn’t allow Saito to help her change because of this. Once she recognized these feelings, she became embarrassed at the mere thought of him looking at her skin. She didn't want him to see her face after she had just woken up.
When did I start having these feelings for Saito? Probably since that time, Louise thought. Just when she was about to be killed by Fouquet’s golem, she was hugged by Saito. Her heart throbbed. Despite the fact that she was about to die, her heart beat loudly. There was also the time when Wardes was about to kill her. Saito jumped in and saved her. But the time her heart beat the fastest was when they were riding on the dragon and he had kissed her. After that, she couldn’t look at Saito’s face.
I wonder what Saito thinks of me? An unpleasant girl? A selfish and mean master? Or perhaps he likes me? Well, he kissed me, so he must like me. Or could it be that he’s the same as Guiche and just likes women? I wonder which one. I want to know. Anyhow, why didn’t he do anything when I was just sleeping beside him, Louise thought.
‘’Of course, if he did anything now I’d kick him in the crotch.’’
‘’But…but…’’ Louise tapped Saito’s pillow. He didn’t wake up. She looked around restlessly. Other than the moon, nothing was looking at her. She moved towards Saito’s face. Her pulse started to quicken. She pressed her lips upon his softly, only for about two seconds. It was the kind of kiss that the person wasn’t even aware had taken place.
Saito turned over.
Louise panicked slightly and drew away from his face, sinking into the blanket, hugging her pillow.
What am I doing? To my familiar as well. I’m such an idiot.
She looked at Saito’s face. He was kind of cool: coming from another world, being obedient at times, yet carried away at other times for absolutely no reason. The legendary familiar … I wonder if I really do like him? Is this what they call love?
While she repeated her thoughts, she traced her lips with her fingers. The heat was like iron against her lips. How can I find the answer to this question?
"I don’t want to be left not knowing the answer…" whispered Louise as she closed her eyes.