Then, two and a half years passed. I turned eight as winter arrived, but I still remain confined and I spend everyday the same way as always.
However, there has been one small change.
“Otouto-kun, I came to play again!”
And that, is that Claire has continued to come to play ever since that day.
When Claire came into the living room, she sat down next to me in what was becoming her designated seat.
Her wavy, platinum blonde hair gently shakes as she sits next to me, and her smell of citrus fills the room.
“Claire-sama, welcome. Would you like a cup of warm tea?”
“Yes, that sounds good. Milli-san, thank you as always.”
“No, please, I do not mind.”
Milli leaves the room to make tea.
Claire, who I have seen most everyday recently, has grown quite a lot over the past two years. Although I remember my past life, it’s hard to believe that I’m already nine years old again.
“Hey, hey, otouto-kun, otouto-kun, what kind of story do you want to hear today? I am studying properly recently and I can tell you about many things, what do you think?”
My sister acts the same as usual. Well it’s not a bad feeling having my sister trying to bond with me…but I’ll keep that a secret to myself.
“Otouto-kun, is there nothing you would like to ask?”
“Hmm let’s see….Oh, that’s right, have you heard of a bamboo-like plant that is a source of sugar?”
“Sugar cane, huh? I think there are plants like that, but is it really a source of sugar?”
“If it’s like the plant I’m thinking of, then yes.”
Because the language in this world is different, the name is also completely different, but many of the plants in this world resemble those of Earth. So, it seems like the possibility of finding ‘sugarcane’ is high.
“Hmm? So what would you do if that ‘sugarcane’ were found?”
“Yeah, I thought about trying to make sweets.”
“Sweets? If that’s the case, why can’t you use the sugar we already have here?”
“The climate here makes it difficult to cultivate sugar beets and the cost is too high if you rely on imports, only nobles are free to use the existing sugar.”
“Well …Then is it no good? Do you think mother would be angry if we used the sugar we already have?”
“Well, I doubt it with the small amount we would use.”
Sugar is valuable in this region, so I think that mass production would be able to make money.
When I say money, it may seem materialistic, but that is why it can be used in negotiation with the Grances family. In other words, I think that money can buy my freedom.
Unexpectedly, Claire let out a pretty sneeze.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, thank you for your concern, recently it has gotten colder, maybe I caught a cold?”
“A cold isn’t good…… It seems that the winters in this area are quite dry. I’m worried it could be something like influenza, are you sure you’re okay?”
“…What is ‘influenza’?”
“Ah…..Something like a cold, but with worse symptoms?”
“Huh, is there such a thing?”
“Yes. Therefore, when sleeping, it is a good idea to leave a wet cloth in your room overnight.”(TN: No clue what this is supposed to do. Googled it and maybe has something to do with increasing the humidity level in the room. Ed: I just looked up Humidity vs the flu, and apparently increasing the humidity from 23% to 43% reduced the flu particles by around 60%, so it’s probably to increase the humidity.)
“Is that so? It must be, after all my otouto-kun is very knowledgeable, I will try it tonight, thank you.”
“Yeah, I’d like that……Hey, Claire…You often come to visit, but won’t Caroline become suspicious if you visit so frequently?”
“Hmm? Well, Mother has been really busy looking for a marriage partner for me recently.”
“……Are you okay with that?”
“It’s not something that I want…But it’s a destiny I can not escape anyway, I’m just glad I’m fortunate enough to make time to meet with my otouto-kun.”
“A destiny you can’t escape, huh…….”
I have too become happy. Saya wished it for me in my previous life – it’s the least I can do for her. So, I began my pursuit for happiness.
Even after being reborn my desire to find happiness has not changed.
In the first place – what even is happiness.
In this world there is neither a proper family register nor any form of personal identification. So it’s not impossible to escape from the Grances family by sneaking out of the mansion or even disguising myself.
For example, it could be a good idea to become a disciple of some merchant and live the rest of my life practicing that craft. That way, I’m sure I could spend my days feeling fulfilled.
And, hopefully, Milli would be a part of that life.
But, it would be impossible to take Claire with me. There are so many people with her at all times, not to mention that she isn’t allowed to leave the mansion grounds. If I was forced to leave Claire behind if I escape, I feel like I wouldn’t be able to achieve my happiness.
Is everyone in the world happy – I would doubt as much. But at the very least, I want the people precious to me to be happy – but…
Maybe I could somehow manage to bring Milli. But, with me hidden away as a child of a mistress, Claire will be used as a tool for a political marriage. As for trying to save both, the risk would be much too high.
……Seriously – I may have to try to aim for some kind of internal affairs cheat.
“Ah ~ Ah …I wonder if I can choose whom I like as long as I agree to get married. I wish otouto-kun was a marriage partner.”
“……………Haa? What are you suddenly saying?”
“Well, otouto-kun is gentle and smart and you’re training your body, right? You’re also handsome and cool. So it would be nice if you were my marriage partner.”
“No, no, even if we are only half-siblings, you are undoubtedly my sister, are you not?”
“Okay, I know that marriage with a family member isn’t looked at as being a good thing, but have you seen any of my other political marriage candidates?”
“No, but…..are they really that bad?”
“The most recent candidate introduced to me was a greasy, old man in his late thirties.”
I thought that the candidates for her marriage couldn’t be that bad, but it was even worse than I imagined.
In my previous life I had occasionally heard of someone in their fifties marrying someone in their twenties, but……A nine year old marrying a thirty nine year old in a loveless marriage – no matter what I can only think of it as a crime.
Her half-brother or a thirty year old man…… Which one is better? No, either way I do not intend to marry Claire.
But as her younger brother, I think I want to do something.
But, as I am now, I can not do anything – and my thoughts of helping Claire hit a dead end. Milli came back with a tray carrying tea as if she had been waiting for the right time to enter.
“Sorry for the wait…….is there something wrong?”
Milli, who had set the tea out for us, could sense the tense atmosphere and lightly tousled my hair; I tilted my head to the side to enjoy it. Claire attempted to change the topic.
“Uh, it’s nothing, Milli-san, what is this sticky thing?”
“This is a type of sweet that Leon-sama taught me how to make.”
Milli had made custard pudding, a type of heated pudding.
I also knew how to make the chilled type of pudding, but I am unable to make it because there are no refrigerators in this world.
“Somehow, it’s a bit scary that it’s all squishy and jiggly. Does something like this really taste good?”
“– Try it, I definitely think that Claire will like it.”
“O..Okay…if you say so…”
Claire’s takes a small bite of pudding, daring to put it in her mouth. The face that was full of suspicion and caution quickly melts.
“Wow ~ ~ ~ ~ ! Delicious! What is this, what is this, it’s so sweet and really delicious!”
She takes another bite, then two more, and soon Claire loses any elegance she had as she devours the pudding.
“Fuu ……Amazing… This is absolutely amazing, I’ve never had anything like it~”
Correction, there is not much left in Claire that would resemble a proper lady. Though, I’d say it’s pretty cute for her age.
“If you like it that much, would you like mine as well?”
“Is that okay? No, it’s yours……It’s not okay for an older sister to take her younger brother’s sweets, right?”
Though Claire is saying that, her gaze is fixed on the pudding.
“Hmm maybe, if you act obediently.”
I smiled a little, mischievously, and took a spoonful of pudding and put it close to Claire’s face.
“Hey~~, you want this, right?”
“Well, that’s not true – umm, well …”
Claire puffs out her cheeks. However–
“No matter how mean of a face you try to make, it doesn’t mean anything if you keep following the pudding with your eyes.”
“……Otouto-kun is evil.”
“Well, why don’t you act a little more honest?”
“Hah, why would I want something like that? I don’t want it even a tiny bit!”
“Ah, is that so.”
I move the pudding slowly away from Claire’s face. The further away it gets the closer she seems to crying.
“Wait, I said wait…”
“Eh, it’s not that I want it, but if you say that you aren’t hungry, then I guess I have no choice but to take it.”
“Is that so? I don’t want to force you to take it either. So, if you ask me really nicely and say how much you want it, maybe I’ll consider giving it to you?”
“Uuu, otouto-kun is an idiot! I can’t say such an embarrassing thing!”
“So you aren’t willing to say something embarrassing for this? Or is it that you really do not want it? If that’s the case then I guess there’s no choice.”
I moved the spoonful of pudding slowly to my mouth—
“Okay, I’ll say it! I’ll admit it!……I…..want….”
“Sorry, what did you say?”
“I want it, I want it! So, please! Please, please give it to me right now!”
Haha, finally you’re honest. Well then–
“- Stop! Any further and you’ll need the R15 tag!”
The doors burst open and Michelle came flying into the room. Then, she looked at me, who was teasing Claire with pudding, and her face hardened.
“…Leon-sama, what are you doing?”
“We..we were just trying to eat pudding..?”
“Otouto-kun, please hurry and give it to me know, I can’t wait anymore.”
“Yeah yeah, wait a moment.”
I put a spoonful of pudding into Claire’s mouth.
“Fuuwaa…… It’s shooo good!” (TN: So about that R15 tag…)(Ed: I, personally, am finding this hilarious)
Claire’s face melted again.
“… Well, Leon-sama? I will ask again, what are you doing?”
“I was just feeding Claire pudding.”
“……Is that pudding laced with some kind of drug that causes dependency?”
“Drug that causes dependency?……How could I have something like that?”
“But then, why is ojou-sama……”
“No, I think she’s like that because the pudding is so delicious. Well, I also liked teasing her a bit.”
“Eh? Is that really the only thing?”
“It is true, but if you don’t believe me -“
I turn my eyes to Milli. It seems that the tea has finished being brewed …. Why does she look like she has a small smile on her face?
“What do you think, Michelle?”
“- That’s good!”
Come to think of it, it was Claire that made the marriage proposal to me, I wonder if Michelle knows about Claire’s desire.
I’ll have to make sure to tell Claire not to overeat too much. Claire is as adorable as an angel now, but if she can’t stop eating pudding she’ll start to put on weight.
While thinking about that, Michelle, who was ignored by Claire, headed to the kitchen with Milli. Once again, the room became just two people, Claire and I.
“So, are you going to eat anymore, Claire?”
“Uuu, I’ve had enough already. Thank you for giving me some of yours, otouto-kun. Are you going to eat the rest?”
Now that Claire has finished she regains the composure of a proper lady.
“I see. Are you planning to have Michelle get more later?”
“Uuuu……Otouto-kun is evil.”
Claire makes a cute expression as her face reddens and she diverts her gaze.
I was worried whether food from Earth would be accepted in this world, but it seems like I had nothing to fear. Later, it would be great if I can find a way to mass-produce things cheaply.
If I could find a way to mass-produce the pudding cheaply, and if it became a big hit, I might be able to win my freedom in exchange for the knowledge of how to make it.
At this time, I didn’t notice the disaster waiting right around the corner.
–About one week later.
“Help me, otouto-kun! Michelle is…..Michelle is going to be killed!”
Claire burst into the living room with this message.