Volume 4, Chapter 20: Letter from Claire

Starting tomorrow, we’ll be spending a few weeks out in the forest. We have a lot of preparations to make, but Crane’s servants are taking care of that.

So, I was relaxing in the Marquis of Gramps’ drawing room. I was enjoying tea time for the first time in a while.

“It’s been a while since it was just the two of us.”

Milli sat opposite me.

I’m usually with Claire and Alice. Sophia has been spending time with Milli, but Milli is usually working as a servant when we’re not with her.

It’s been a long time since we were alone together. It reminded me of the time we spent alone together outside the Grances mansion.

No, I’m not missing being locked up. I’m not into that.

“That’s because you’re always surrounded by pretty girls, Leon.”

“I can’t deny that…. Are you saying that’s a bad thing?”

“Of course not. I’m just wondering when I’ll get to see my grandchild.”

“…a grandchild. I’m still only sixteen years old.”

“That’s old enough to be having children.”

…of course. You can get married at age twelve in this world. It wouldn’t be surprising for a sixteen year old to have children. In fact, Milli gave birth to me when she was sixteen.

“Well…I don’t have time to think about stuff like that now. Maybe once things have calmed down I will.”

After I agreed to go out with Alice, I did the same with Sophia. I’m still unsure where Claire and I stand and now we’re trying to cure Elyse. I don’t have time to be thinking about grandchildren.

“Fufu~, I look forward to it.”

Milli giggled as my face turned red. Elsa then entered the room carrying a letter.

“What is it?”

“A letter has arrived from Claire-sama.”

I received the letter from her and turned it over to see the wax seal. There’s no doubt this is from Claire. The emblem of the Grances family was engraved in the wax.

I thanked Elsa and began to open the letter, but Elsa didn’t leave.

“Was there something else?”

“Please, take me as an escort when you go into the forest tomorrow.”

“That again? I told you to stay in the mansion.”

“I know that you’re strong enough, Leon-sama. But I exist to protect you.”

She looked desperate. Almost as if being left at the mansion would make her life meaningless.

“Umm, Elsa, I never said I don’t need you. I need you to stay at the mansion.”

“What do you mean?”

“I need Alice with me to hunt the Lyk Skull Bear because she has heightened senses. Sophia is worried about Elyse, so she needs to come as well.”

With them at my side, I don’t expect us to have any problems in the forest. But with all of us gone, there will be only one person I can completely trust here.

“Please, protect Milli in my absence.”

“That’s umm…could it be that?”

Elsa looked surprised. I thought about it for a moment, then realized she misunderstood my words.

I’m guessing she believes that I don’t trust Crane. I shook my head and immediately attempted to clear up the misunderstanding.

“She’s safe within the mansion. This city is improving, but it’s nowhere near as safe as Muhle. There’s a chance she’ll be targeted because she’s from a noble family. That’s why I want you to stay with her.”

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And I now know that many citizens hold a grudge against Crane.

“That’s what you meant. Then, certainly, by my honour as a knight, I’ll protect Milli-sama.”

“I’m counting on you.”

Elsa seemed happier as she left the room.

Milli told me she was happy that I was worried about her, but she didn’t think it was necessary.

Anyway — I opened Claire’s letter and was left breathless after reading it.

“…Leon, what’s wrong?”

“I need to go find Alice.”

“Oh, you’re ready to try making me a grandchild?”

“Why would you think that? I need to talk with her about this letter!”

I arrived in front of Alice’s door and gave a quick knock.

“– Leon? You can come in.”

“…you could already tell it was me.”

I was surprised when I entered her room. Sophia and Alice were already sitting at a table discussing something.

“You always knock in the same way and there a very few people in this mansion that knock three times.”

“Ah, I see.”

In Japan, there was no set standard for the number of times you knock on a door. But in this world, there is a set amount that’s considered proper.

You knock three times when it’s someone you’re close with. Only Milli, Sophia, Alice, and I would be considered close enough to each other to knock three times in this mansion.

“So, what did you need?”

“Ah, well, I needed to talk with Alice….”

I sat at their table and glanced over at Sophia.

“Hmm? Is it about something you only do at night? Then, can I join in this time?”

“– That’s not what this is about!”

…wait, did she just say she wanted to join in? No, I’m sure I just misheard her. It was just in my mind….

“Hey, Leon? I’m sure Sophia already knows enough to join in with us, but I think her first time should be with you alone.”

“Didn’t you hear what I said…!? Wait, I haven’t even told you that I agreed to date Sophia yet.”

“Ah, yeah, Sophia already told me. Congratulations, Leon.”

“Thank you…. It’s kind of weird that you’re congratulating me for that.”

“Oh, would you rather I act jealous.”

“That’s not exactly what I meant….”

I’m planning on being with several girls and they’re all determined to be friends with each other. But it would still be nice if they were a little jealous.

…it would help my guilt if at least one of them got angry or jealous

“It’s fine, Leon. I like you and I also like Sophia and Claire. The four of us can live happily together.”

“Thank you…but you’re already including Claire.”

“You’re not planning on leaving her out, are you?”

“‘Leaving her out’….”

To go out with her when I’m already going out with two girls…. I feel like it’s unfair to her. However, it’s been several years since she confessed to me. It’s about time I gave her a proper answer.

“Once this is settled, I’ll speak with Claire. I know Alice is okay with it, but…what about you, Sophia?”

“Yep. I’d be happiest if everyone is together.”

“I see…. Thank you.”

However, I still felt a little sad that she wasn’t jealous. It’s possible she’s using her ability right now. Alice giggled.

“A man’s heart is a complicated thing.”

“…leave me alone.”

“Fufu~, all right. So, what did you actually need?”

“Actually, I needed your advice….”

Claire’s letter was about Elyse’s condition. Her health was rapidly declining and she was only expected to have a few months left.

I’m not sure if I want Sophia knowing about this. I came here to only speak with Alice, but my timing was bad.

“Leon? Is something wrong?”

“That’s….”

When Alice asked this, I inadvertently looked over at Sophia. Sophia noticed and tilted her head to the side.

“…Leon onii-chan?”

“….”

All I could think about was that I shouldn’t let Sophia know about this, but that feeling will be directly transmitted to her.

“…Leon onii-chan? Are you worried about something and trying to hide it from me?”

“– Stop!”

I raised my voice instantly. This is just like that day — I was trying to hide what her parents had done and she used her ability to read my feelings.

I didn’t want this to turn out the same way, but Sophia didn’t look upset. A gentle expression appeared on her face as she stared back at me.

“Leon onii-chan, if you’re trying to hide something from me, I won’t use my ability.”

“Sophia….”

It’s a different result from that day. I’m happy to see that Sophia is growing, but I wasn’t looking forward to her next words.

And she said exactly what I expected.

“But, please, if it involved me, tell me. I can handle it.”

If she used her ability, she could find out exactly what I’m hiding. Yet, she didn’t, and instead, asked me directly.

I’m worried about how she’ll react….

“Fine, I’ll tell you. But please, stay calm and listen to everything.”

“Thank you, Leon onii-chan.”

Her red eyes sparkled and a gentle smile appeared on her face. Sophia is really growing up…but I can’t even be happy knowing what I have to tell her.

I let out a small sigh and said, “Elyse’s condition has deteriorated.”

“…eh, Mother? That can’t be.”

“I’m sorry, but…it’s true. Claire told me in her letter.”

“Then…is my mom going to die?”

“No, she seems to have stabilized but she must remain in bed. She still has a few months left.”

“Well…we can still make it in time if we find the liver?”

“Yes, we should have time. I can’t guarantee we will, but…Claire is also doing whatever she can to help.”

I would love to say that she’ll definitely be fine.

But I feel uneasy and I know Sophia would be able to tell I’m lying.

“…Leon onii-chan, thank you for telling me.”

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“You don’t need to thank me…. But are you okay?”

“I’m worried about my mother, but I still have you two with me. So, I’ll be okay…. You will stay with me, won’t you?”

There’s no way I can say no to her when she makes such a cute face.

No, I would never say no to her anyway. I told her, “Of course.”

“Thank you, Leon onii-chan. Then, we’ll sleep together tonight.”

“…what?”

“You already agreed to it!”

“Wait, wait, what do you mean ‘sleep together?’”

“I mean we’ll all sleep together in this room.”

“No, no, no, that’s a bit much.”

“Don’t worry. We’re just going to sleep, just sleep!”

…no, there’s no chance it’s that simple. This is the type of flag that leads to no sleep at all.

“Anyway, this is Crane’s mansion, we shouldn’t sleep together here. You should just stay with Alice tonight, Sophia.”

I don’t know how serious Sophia was about that, but I expect she really does want someone to stay with her tonight.

But this is also why I can’t sleep with her. We wouldn’t sleep and it wouldn’t even help Sophia’s anxiety…. I absolutely can’t sleep with Sophia in Crane’s mansion.

…I really feel that Crane has cursed me.

“Why won’t you? You won’t grant my request?”

“I’d do almost anything for you but I can’t do that.”

“I’m not asking you to do anything; I’m asking you to do ecchi things.”

“That’s not any better!”

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