School Arc – Chapter 18
Wolf told me something like ‘I’ll only hurt you, so don’t come near me’.
The words,『It’s okay even if I get hurt, I want to be by your side』, were at the tip of my tongue. But I didn’t say them in the end.
I mean, Wolf was a person who’d always been by my side in order to protect me from harm.
They were also words that would betray the family who loved me.
Even so, maybe I should have said it.
If I did, maybe I would’ve been by Wolf’s side right now.
What would Lily do if it was her? I wanted to hear the answer to that. Even though I ought to know that now wasn’t the time for this, I found myself thinking of nothing but that. That’s because, she’s someone who… does the right thing, after all.
The answer that I’ll arrive at definitely won’t be the right one.
Soon, Father arrived at school.
I was actually a little afraid of seeing Father face-to-face. I’d been warned by him countless of times, scolded, and in the end, abandoned… aah, no, wrong. That… was in a dream.
Since he’s very sharp at subtle signs, I was terrified that Father might end up finding out about what I was seeing in my nightmares as well.
However, in reality, Father just gave me a very gentle smile and simply said ‘let’s go back home’. Maybe I relaxed since I was so happy, I dozed off and fell asleep in the carriage on our way home. As expected of course, a nightmare quickly followed after.
Even after we returned home, Father didn’t ask me anything.
He never asked me anything, but he did constantly check up on me while I was in bed. It was somewhat… a little funny.
「Father, what about work?」
I meant to be considerate of him, but my words caused Father to make a sad expression.
「No, you did nothing wrong. It’s just, whenever I think of the times you’ve said those words to me up til now, it makes me feel pathetic」
「Father, you aren’t pathetic」
「No, I am. Actually, Lycoris. Right now, I don’t know what kind of nightmares you’re facing. I don’t know what to do to help you」
Father made a somewhat helpless expression and took a seat at the edge of my bed. I’d thought that if it was Father, he’d be able to see through my mind without any problems, but that didn’t seem to be the case.
「I guess even you, Father, have people you don’t understand and get puzzled over, huh…」
After saying that, I was hit by a sudden overwhelming sense of deja vu. I feel like I’ve said something like this to Father before.
That’s right, wasn’t it when we were talking about Uncle Narcissus? (1)
And, what on earth was it that Father had answered with?
I couldn’t distinctly recall the memory I should’ve been able to, but it was as if the mist somehow clouded it. Thankfully, however, Father continued on, giving me words that was like his response then.
「That’s natural. To begin with, since a very long time ago, I honestly had no idea what my daughter really wants or what she might think of me」
「Honestly, I’m a pathetic father. Since you were young, you’ve been a very mature child, you’d already learnt restraint before you could ask anything selfish of me. No, because I wasn’t by your side, I might not have even given you a chance to ask anything selfish」
I did build a mental wall against my father in the past. Not knowing my father, I did feel lonely and uneasy. Is Father saying he felt the same way?
At any rate, I had to tell him these next words no matter what, so I got up from bed and spoke.
「I don’t think you’re pathetic, Father. I mean, when I was at the Rankgerüste mansion, you rushed over, beat up Uncle Narcissus, and hugged me tight. I thought to myself, while I’m in your arms, nothing bad will happen」
Father slowly stretched his large hands around me, wrapping me in warmth.
How long has it been since Father hugged me? For a period in time when I enrolled into the academy, I think I’d been hugged each time I returned home. I should be way older now than I was then, but the sense of security hasn’t changed at all.
And so, this warmth sparked the little bit of courage left in me.
「Father. There’s something I wanted to ask you since long ago, but I never got to ask it」
「What is it?」
「…Father, did you ever love Mother?」
Upon my words, Father seemed incredibly surprised.
「Why do you ask something like that? … Did someone say something to you?」
「It’s already been a long time ago… but, Uncle Narcissus did tell me something」
There was a sharp edge to Father’s tone that I shivered a little.
「Aah, I’m sorry. I’m not angry at you. But, I see, so it was Narcissus, huh…」
I felt a hint of agitation in Father’s tone.
Subsequently after we took in Shade, Aunt and Crinum cut off all ties with Uncle Narcissus, and he was then fired from the job of managing the territory. Last I asked Father about him, I was simply told that he was in some foreign country.
「…well, that guy doesn’t matter right now.『Did I ever love her?』, you ask? That’s not quite right」
Upon Father’s words, my heart plummeted. As though to stop that, he hugged me tightly and said:
「…even to this day, I still love her」
He said in an earnest tone.
This was the first I’ve heard Father speak this way since I was born.
「The truth is, you might have needed a woman to replace your mother, and perhaps I should have had a second marriage. But I couldn’t do it. My wife could only be her alone, I couldn’t take anyone else, that’s what I realized」
That’s right. Father had all but brushed the numerous talks of a second wife aside. I should know, I’ve even seen it happen in person when I was with him.
「…but, I’ve heard that Mother was a very jealous person」
「She was a passionate woman. That’s also what I loved about her」
‘Really?’, when I inclined my head questioningly, Father continued with a flustered smile.
「Her affection was like a burning flame. I’d certainly been a little concerned. Though it was because I wanted to continue being with her in peace for even longer. But even as she lay sick in bed, she never changed. Even in her last moments, she was still the same」
「…was she a lovely person?」
「Yeah, she was. It was a wonderful love. That’s why that love was able to produce the most wonderful gem of all – you」
When Father proudly proclaimed those words, I felt as if the mist cleared away in front of my eyes.
「I don’t know what Narcissus told you. But, you can just ignore what he said. It doesn’t matter what others thought of our love…. Oh, that’s right. I have something nice to show you」
After he said that, Father rushed out of the room and quickly came back, holding something covered in cloth.
「This is what I wanted to show you, but as I thought, it’s still a little embarrassing」
Bashfully saying so, Father uncovered the cloth, and what came to sight was a single painting.
It was a painting of a smiling woman holding a small baby in her arms.
「I… painted this」
「This girl is you. When you were just born」
Then… could the person holding the baby in her arms be… my Mother?
Although the painting might not be what you’d call skillful, the woman had been drawn with a gentle touch. Sure, she had black hair. Black eyes. But her expression was quite different to the one I’ve seen in other paintings of my mother.
Her expression was brimming with nothing but affection. With her cheeks pressed closely to the baby she was holding in her arms, it looked as if she was showing off the baby to whoever was looking.
「Your mother was shy of strangers. Whenever she was asked to have a painting made of her, she’d somehow make a stiff expression every time. I should’ve shown this to you sooner. It’s just… this… is really embarrassing, isn’t it? But, this expression of hers in particular, was a look that only I could draw. She didn’t show this expression to anyone else but me, her…」
Hanging his head down, it seemed as if Father was holding back his tears.
When I saw Father this way, when I saw the painting, I understood perfectly. That the mother I saw in my nightmares was nothing more than a figment of my imagination.
I suppose it was an imitation made from a blend of both Uncle Narcissus’s words and my own insecurities.
My heart swelled, feeling sorry for Mother. What plagued me was not Mother’s blood or anything of that sort. It was simply my fears and insecurities alone.
「…it must be painful to lose someone you love. But even then, Father, did you ever regret loving Mother?」
「Never. Even though I wish I’d had more time with her, I never regretted anything」
「Do you think I’ll be able to love like that?」
「Of course. You’re our daughter after all」
Father’s wore a look that seemed to wonder why I was even asking something as obvious as that.
And so, with a push on my back, I strengthened my resolve.
「…Father, I want to go back to the academy. I have to go back」
Father looking intently into my eyes for a while, but he eventually gave up and smiled indulgently at me.
「…I see. Then, in the meantime, sleep properly until the flush comes back to your cheeks. While you’re sleeping, I’ll prepare the souvenirs you’ll bring to school」
「Sweet dreams, Lycoris」
Unable to overcome the lull of the futon and his gentle voice, I went to sleep all too quickly.
I didn’t see even a single dream, it had been a very deep slumber.
An absolutely disquieting tidbit: though her father’s artistic taste are clear in the story now, there are plenty of people in the Duke Lilia bloodline who can draw well. Uncle Narcissus is one such person, his room is filled with many, many (endless) pictures of his beloved grandmother’s figure and face, with her eyes the only thing colored.
When I summarize the current chapter, it feels like the rule,『It’s not worth believing what Uncle Narcissus says』, rivals this story’s golden rule of『Once you forget a Yandere, he will come』.
Anyway, it’s time for Lycoris’s awaited counterattack. First is a one-on-one at Wolf’s place!
(1) Family-Hen Chapter 2 if you want to relook what happened.