Chapter 21 – Distant Memories
“…And there’s that. Beline was thinking in such a way, huh.”
“Is that so? Everyone can contemplate various things, you know.”
We settled down after returning to the house, and after I had explained the situation to Grace, she nodded in admiration.
Well, it was a sufficient explanation because the one who had actually considered various things was Beline.
The story Beline had was reasonable, and it was something I needed to consider.
Regarding multiple marriage partners, the one who needed to see to that was me. If this continued any further, I would exhaust all of my energy. I would withdraw if that weren’t the case.
It was just that I thought I needed to relay these things to Grace, no matter how things turned out.
“That’s why, due to the current situation, I have some things I must ask of Grace.”
After staring at Grace with a serious expression, she sat up straight as well.
Right now, the reason Grace was next to me was because…she was indebted to Mom for saving her.
This shouldn’t be misunderstood.
I was just recently placed under Grace’s care, and I didn’t have anything to return to.
That’s why, regarding what would happen after leaving the house, I left it to her to decide.
If I were to make a place that I could belong to in Termuilles, then it would probably become her place as well.
However, in order to solidify Grace’s footing, that alone wouldn’t be enough. She was a mixed blood vampire, and consequently, her position was quite unstable.
Then, what should I do about it?
The answer was simple. After I solidified our positions, all she would need to do was nod.
It was scary imagining that she would refuse…after listening to this. But still.
If she wanted to entrust her Cursed Artifact to someone after I had passed away, then it should only be to someone she chose…If that was the case, then maybe it would be to her family or children?
If she nodded in agreement, that is. There was enough room for her to stay next to me.
“Although Grace said she would serve me, I dislike feeling dependent, even if it’s because of an obligation to Mom. It’s fine if you’re here because of a debt of gratitude or for work, but for Grace’s personal life, it’s definitely for the best that those are separated.”
I paused in between words for a moment, took in a deep breath, and closed my eyes.
I opened my eyes and, while looking at her, I spoke directly to her.
“I’m saying that it’s fine for Grace to walk with me as a companion. I think, I always want you to be beside me.”
Grace looked at me with surprise. Let’s talk about it properly so that there aren’t any misunderstandings.
“I want you to marry me. That’s further down the line, though.”
Since this was further down the line, I needed to further solidify my own standing, or perhaps this conversation would become useless for Grace’s future.
“…I understand what you mean.”
Grace closed her eyes as she replied.
I would wait for her reply with a hopeful heart.
No matter what someone, no, anyone, thought about it, it was fine. To be refused by Grace would be…
“Before I…give my reply, I have something that I want to tell Theodore-sama, no matter what.”
Nervously, she took in a big, deep breath.
“I’m not here as an obligation to Risa-sama.”
Mom, Grace, and I. The events of the day we first met.
“I…my parents passed away, and I had been wandering about aimlessly, without anywhere to go. There was no one that would approach a mixed-blood child. If I interacted with people too much, I would have been chased with stones and stakes. Nobody ever extended their hand to me. I think that this couldn’t be helped. My hands are capable of easily killing people.”
This is about the time she didn’t have a Cursed Artifact, huh?
“I’ve always been hungry, but I hate seeing people as food. That’s why I was scared of just about everything, and I ended up hiding away in a forest until I was picked up by Risa-sama. I had vampiric impulses, but I’m half-human, after all. I could just live on regular food. It was really…painful.”
That’s what she taught me.
Even if she sated her appetite, it was only ‘Half’.
That didn’t seem to be the case anymore, since that trait was suppressed by the Cursed Artifact.
“I think that Theodore-sama doesn’t remember the day I first met Risa-sama. I realized it from the start, but Theodore-sama is a greater priority to me than Risa-sama. The small Theodore-sama, who was held by Risa-sama, gave me, who was in a bush, a smile when you met my eyes. That made me very happy…and sad. After realizing that, my heart was filled, and I ended up crying.”
She couldn’t be accepted by people since she was a Dhampir. This I understood.
I, who was a baby not much older than one, saw her face and laughed.
Something like that…was by chance, wasn’t it?
Grace, after understanding the things I wanted to say, smiled at me, and shook her head slightly.
“After that happened, Risa-sama noticed me as well…and gave me this ring. She gave me a place to belong to. That’s why, with these hands, I won’t end up hurting children, even if I caress them. Theodore-sama, no matter what you see me as, not once were you scared. You’ve never hated me. Do you understand how many times you saved me because of that?”
Grace placed a hand on her chest, and said that.
“I, too…will say that I want Theodore-sama to be beside me. From the past until now, I’ve always, always been shameful. I said that I would get hungry because of my blood-sucking impulses, but now, even if I have them, I don’t feel hungry. What do you think the difference is? Do you understand what the origins of these impulses are?”
The origins, huh?
…Ah. So it was like that? One of the reasons vampires suck blood is for food. They hunt prey since they’re hungry. It’s simple.
However, there is still more to it. In other words, it’s to increase the amount of companions they have.
If Grace was at my side, then her impulses would calm down. Wasn’t it really obvious if one considered what her impulses would turn into as a reaction?
…Well, could she disclose it to me as a secret after all, huh? Even if I mulled over it, I would be too conscious of being prideful, and perhaps I would dismiss it with a smile.
“Restless feelings are fake, you know. I’ve come to know about what they are, little by little, since I always thought about it, ever since Theodore-sama said it was fine to help him with changing clothes, bathing, and the like.”
…It wasn’t when Grace was small. Perhaps there was a change in emotions and an increase of awareness towards me, who accompanied her while growing up.
What would be the correct way to express my feelings? I wouldn’t be able to see her reactions if she hugged me. This reason and the correct words that should be expressed. Perhaps she had gradually understood them.
“Whether or not it was fine, I had pampered Theodore-sama with kindness…to remove Theodore-sama’s anxiety, like I did in the past. Once there was proper communication, I was scared that…Theodore-sama would stay away from me.”
Grace closed her eyes bitterly.
It was out of the question to harm the owner though, since I had the Cursed Artifact.
In reality, these feelings wouldn’t die after all, huh?
“That’s why, now that you’ve heard this, I’ll ask you, are you fine with such a shameful me?”
Although I had listened to the nervous Grace, my decision had already been made.
“It’s like I said before, I don’t consider that a problem at all.”
“If your blood-sucking impulses originate from such feelings, isn’t it obvious that I would be happy if they were directed at me?”
I knew my face was getting hotter while I said that. This doesn’t match my character, geez.
It was impossible to stop things that were related to the one you love.
Speaking of the fear of being rejected after conveying my feelings to her, perhaps the fear I had felt before I was cut off from Grace earlier was unchanged. Perhaps the one who felt more strongly about this was Grace.
“Is it okay? Something like that, I’ll definitely cause trouble for you.”
She asked me that with a dumbfounded look.
“You know Grace, it will probably be me that will cause you trouble, and worry you.”
“S-something like that is…A-ah. Are you referring to Beline-sama, from earlier?”
“Hmm…well, there’s that as well.”
Grace smiled at me and shook her head.
“Speaking of that, surely…it will be a bit troublesome, but if it’s Ashley-sama, then I can agree to it, and I’ll also be a bit happy. I think I also want to support the things related to her.”
“…Is that so?”
“Yes. Ashley-sama, towards Theodore-sama, probably…”
Grace stopped speaking and shook her head slightly.
“…I’ll stop there. Surely the one who wants to tell Theodore-sama this is Ashley, I don’t think this is something I should say.”
…What was it? I was a bit concerned now. Even if I looked at Grace, she just squinted her eyes mischievously.
The two of them had talked about many things in Schirn’s mansion…they might have had a conversation that I didn’t know about.
Was that why their relationship was so strangely good?
“Is it okay to call you by your name, like I did in the past? At least, just for now.”
Something like that, if Grace wished for it, then it didn’t matter what she did.
After smiling at her, Grace smiled back as well, and said that.