Saturday, October 23, 2021

Have a Cup of Coffee after School in the Fantasy World Café V3 (4 of 6)


Translator: Skythewood

Editor: Hiiro


「If the Monte Company have their eyes on you, then this shop will definitely become famous.」

After Momon left, Aina sat to the right side of me at the dining table, and tapped at Momon’s empty glass.

「Is the Monte Company famous? Maybe this is a scam?」

「No way.」

Aina shrugged, and acted like a noble lady as usual. But she was dressed like a maid, so it looked out of place.

「The Monte Company is a new company that is growing by leaps and bounds. He told you to address him by the cute name of Momon, but he is a brilliant merchant who ran the show by himself. I heard he had many customers amongst the nobility.」

He seemed to be a great person, did I mess up the way I addressed him?

「Should I flatter him a little?」

「It’s not too late to start now. Go on Plebeian, you can shower me with compliments and flattery, I’m the daughter of a Count after all.」

Aina puffed out her chest and gently caressed the hair on her shoulder.


「Did you laugh just now!?」

「So, what do you think about that proposal? Is it suspicious?」

「Can you not change the topic so nonchalantly?」

Aina glared at me, but I ignored her. She sighed as if she was mocking me, and continued:

「Anyway, Monte Mong Montblanc is a difficult name to say.」

「Can’t you just call him Momon?」

「Calling a middle aged man with such a cute name goes against my principles.」

I didn’t know she had such a principle.

「Monte’s thinking is ahead of our times, and he is famous for turning his vision into reality. He can see what others couldn’t.」

That sounded like unreserved praise.

「…… Is he an incredible person?」

「I can understand why you might look down on him since he looked like that, but he is very capable. All the business venture he participated in are resounding successes, and since he can help us earn money, the nobles are happy to assist him.」

I crossed my arms and rested my chin on my fist.

According to Aina, Momon was a capable merchant with aristocratic clients, and lived up to his top class reputation.

「Why would someone like that come to my shop? It might be strange for me to say this, but this is just a weird rundown shop.」

「I know, but something must have struck a chord with him. And since this business is proven to be successful, he can obviously earn a cut too.」

「Well, that’s true.」

「Steering a niche business opportunity to success will yield a bigger reward. And Momon is highly evaluated because he can do so. Having him visit is said to be proof of one’s success.」

Aina said with a nefarious smile:

「How nice, Plebeian. With Monte Company at the helm, this shop will make it big.」

「That’s amazing.」

I was impressed, and couldn’t imagine it at all. It didn’t feel real to me.

But in this world with its messy legal system, he was a man who knew the concept of intellectual property protection. After hearing about him negotiating with nobles and successfully developing business ventures, I knew he was a much more capable person than me.

「Make it big, huh.」

Her words were implying something incredible.

I thought the popularity of this shop would be temporary, and only last until the Songstress’ visit. After they leave, the customers would go back home, and business would be slow like usual.

But if it is possible...

If my business can stay prosperous.

If customers keep coming to this shop, I will hire a few people and work together with them.

I imagined such a scenario in the past too.

When I first opened the shop, the accounts were in the red, and I would stare at the ceiling in my bed, unable to fall asleep.

At those times, I would hope that things would become like that.

I still remember the deserted atmosphere of the shop back then.

Consecutive days of running in the red even shaved away the will in my heart, and I would cry by myself many times, thinking that I made a mistake.

At times like that, I would think I could work happily in a busy shop if my business was booming.

I never thought this would come true.

Did my delusion really come true?

「I don’t know what to say.」

I blurt out unknowingly.

「Because you are too happy?」

I shook my head in response to Aina’s words.

「Instead of being happy, I’m more confused. How do I say this? I feel complicated about this.」

「That will happen whenever your environment changes. You’ll feel uneasy at the start, and only feel the joy of it after a long time.」

I looked in a daze at Aina who said that nonchalantly.

「…… What? Don’t make that dumb face.」

「No, I was just thinking how deep you sound, are you really my age? Are you actually 26 years old.」

「Really now, that’s impossible.」

She sighed exasperatedly.

This might be obvious to Aina, but how many people our age could say such a line? At least, I couldn’t.

I could feel how mature Aina was mentally and caught glimpses of the influences of noble society had on her.

「What do you think, Linaria?」

I haven't heard her speak since just now, which bothered me a little. I turned towards the bar counter.

Doddo’s white hair band was swaying in the kitchen, she was doing the prep work for dinner.

Linaria was sitting on a chair in the corner and looking out the window.

She didn’t answer me, and seemingly didn’t hear me.


I raised my voice and called out to her. Her shoulders shuddered and turned to me. She showed an emotionless face and said plainly:


Her monotonous voice confused me.

「Ah, well, what do you think about what Momon said, Linaria?」

「Oh…… Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.」

She said weakly and stood up.

「I’m a little tired. I will rest in my room.」

She showed a faint smile that showed she was considerate of our feelings, and went to the back of the shop.

We didn’t say anything or stopped her, and just watched her go.

「She seems out of it.」

I heard Aina mutter and nodded:

「She has something on her mind.」

「Do you know what it is?」

「I do.」

「Then go apologize.」

She glared and said aggressively.

「Wait, why are you assuming I did something?」

「Did you forget about Eminem Fest?」

I was at a loss for words when I heard that.

In the past, Linaria invited me to a Eminem Fest party in the academy, and I turned her down thoughtlessly and hurt Linaria.

「Oh, right, it was my fault back then, so say what you will.」

I adopted a firm attitude and puffed out my chest proudly:

「But it’s not my fault this time.」

「Then whose fault is it?」

Aina crossed her arms and stared at me with a suspicious face.

Her slender fingers tapped her upper arm with a steady rhythm, and looked as if she was accusing me. She was using her entire body to show her suspicion towards me, and looked just like someone interrogating a criminal.

I wanted to spill everything to make things easy for me, but endured it since I wasn’t the criminal.

「This is Linaria’s private matter, I’m not sure if I should say it.」

Aina stared at me without a word, as if to confirm the authenticity of my statement.

It was a rare experience of being interrogated by a girl in maid attire, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience, and felt awkward and uncomfortable.

「…… I get it, I won’t press the matter if that is the case. But do tell me if it’s something I can help with. Well, we are friends after all, so I will worry.」

When I heard what Aina said, I smiled.

It was great that Linaria had a friend who could tell her that.

「Of course, I hope Linaria can cheer up too.」

Aina pouted when she heard that.

「You too.」


「Like I said, why are you so dense? Linaria-san is obviously my friend.」

Aina averted her face and said:

「But I’m worried about you too… as a friend.」

I had no words.

I then stared right at the girl before me.

She was a noble, an existence I wasn’t familiar with. She was Linaria’s stalker, but for some reason, she was wearing maid attire and helping out in the shop.

I never realized this or said it before, but when it was actually expressed in words, I could feel a warm fuzzy feeling well in my chest.

「Thank you, I’m happy to hear that.」

I see, so I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

Aina raised her chin arrogantly and said:

「Hmm, alright then. If you want to be my friend no matter what, plebeian, then I will kindly get along well with you.」

Aina’s clumsy personality was really cute.

「Yes, please take care of me, because I don’t have any friends.」


I answered teasingly, and Aina fell silent. She shriveled her body like a peacock closing its feathers and stared at the dining table. She then peeked at me and said:

「…… Erm, sorry about all this time. I don’t have many friends, or rather, I don’t have anyone I can open up to, and don’t know how to respond. I made you uncomfortable in the past, right? Erm I will work on that in the future.」

I couldn’t help but laugh at her sudden serious words.

「W-Wait, why are you laughing!? I’m being serious here, how rude!」

「S-Sorry, I can’t help it.」

I couldn’t suppress my laughter, and was having a hard time. When I wiped the tears from the corners of my eyes, Aina glared at me with a pissed face.

「Don’t worry, I have never felt uncomfortable before, I have a lot of fun with you around.」

Challenging me to chess out of the blue, teaching about the card games of this world, demanding me to cook. Those were enjoyable times to me.

Aina was a forthright girl who said what was in her mind, and didn’t have any malice. That was why we could speak freely without leaving bad feelings behind, and she was reliable too.

「…… That’s a weird way of putting it.」

She continued with an unhappy place.

I thought about it for a while, then answered:

「I will be eternally grateful if you can get along with this pitiful plebeian.」

I bowed and Aina snorted with a satisfied laugh.

「Since you say so, I can’t just leave you be then. However, you will need to show more respect towards me, a noble... Are you listening, plebeian?」

It took quite a bit of effort for me to conceal my laughter, and Doddo who was in the kitchen smiled gently.


Linaria came down from her room during the evening hours and started working as usual. However, the way she acted was like she was keeping away from me, as if she was saying「I’m fine, don’t ask.」

As more customers came in to have dinner, the seats were gradually filled, and I couldn’t spare the effort to pay attention to Linaria.

Doddo was working her wonders, but there were just the two of us in the kitchen, and the orders kept coming in.

And the queue was building up.

It wasn’t just because this was a Maid Cafe, or repeating customers bringing their friends. Just having people queueing gave the shop an overwhelming presence, and advertised it to the pedestrians in the street.

When people around me look in a certain direction, I would do the same; if people started queuing, I would be curious too. Even more so for tourists who like new and intriguing things.

People interested in the queue would join the queue, and would in turn draw in even more people, forming a vicious cycle.

「Things are getting interesting.」

Doddo tied up her hair and muttered to herself.

Maybe it was the nonstop work or the heat from the stove, only her cheeks were flushed. She smiled as if she was enjoying herself in this busy time.

「I’m beat.」

「Don’t say something so depressing, we are just getting started.」

「This maid is really strict.」

「That’s part of a maid’s job.」

Really now? This was probably Doddo’s character.

While we were joking around, I cooked a lot of spaghetti, grilled Hamburg steaks and brewed Coffee.

Aina in maid attire and Linaria wearing a black apron walked around the crowded shop. They kept serving dishes, taking orders, and getting talked to by the customers before they could return to the kitchen.

Business was bustling, this was just like a popular shop—— I couldn’t help looking at this objectively.

「You are not moving your hands.」

「Oh, sorry.」

I was lost in thought, and Doddo chided me.

「What’s wrong?」

「No, I was just thinking this is really like a popular shop. Not too long ago, this place has very few customers, so this seems unreal.」

「Indeed, the atmosphere was more relaxed in the past.」

Doddo was being kind by using the term ‘relaxed’.

「But right now, I think this is truly a popular shop.」

「Is that so? I never thought this day would come.」

「This is something to be happy about.」

When Doddo said that, I stopped moving.

「I should be happy about this, huh.」

「Isn’t that what running a business is about? Increasing your customer base, raising revenue and creating wealth. Normally speaking, I think you should be happy with this situation.」

None of Doddo’s words could be refuted. It was as she said, no one likes failing their business, being in the black is better than being in the red.

Since I was running a shop, it was better to earn money than to lose money. Being popular was better than being unpopular, this was an obvious conclusion.

However, I wonder——

Was this something to be happy about?

It felt like I was missing something important, I tried to grasp the vague feeling in my mind. But at this moment, Linaria called out to me, and that feeling disappeared.

I looked up at Linaria, missing what she just said.

「Like I said, he’s here.」

「Who’s here?」

Linaria pointed silently, and I followed her gesture and saw a large figure opening the door.

It was Corleone-san’s bodyguard, who was wearing a dark suit over his well toned body, on the verge of bursting it open. He had a wolf’s head on top of his neck, and was scowling unhappily today too.

By his feet was Corleone-san, a hare. He had a black suit on with a red scarf around his neck, and a small hat on his head. It was already summer, but they were dressed smartly.

I quickly wiped my hands and came out from behind the counter to receive him.

「Welcome, Corleone-san, it has been a while.」

「…… Yes, that’s right.」

Corleone-san said vaguely as he surveyed the shop.

「Oh, sorry, we are full right now……」

「No, it’s fine, I can tell from the queue outside. I have something to tell you, and need a bit of your time.」

「Something to tell me?」

「Can you step outside?」

I looked around the shop, it wasn’t in a state where I could just leave, but since Corleone-san said so, it must be important. I would need Doddo to hold the fort for a while, and would need to apologize to her later.

「Got it, just for a bit.」

「I see.」

Corleone-san left the shop, and I followed him.

It was already dark outside, and the streets were lit by the light from the shops, illuminating the night. The summer heat lingered in the air, but the occasional breeze of wind felt comfortable.

Corleone-san walked to the bench opposite the street, then hopped onto it and sat down. Wolf-san stood a short distance away, and was on guard.

「You seemed to be doing well recently.」

It took me a while to realize he was talking about my shop.

I felt a little bashful hearing Corleone-san say that, and scratched my head before saying:

「Yes, thank you.」

Corleone-san looked past me into the shop, and I turned back too. The yellow light from the windows illuminated the roads, and a long queue formed outside the shop.

「Success is——」

Corleone-san started, and I turned my gaze back onto him.

「Something unfathomable. Something that you couldn’t get no matter how you crave it, might fall into your hands in an unexpected manner.」

「Oh, i-is that so. Are you talking about me?」

「Yes. But I’m also speaking from experience.」

Corleone-san might look like a cute white hare, but he was actually an infamous mafia boss, and his sideline is controlling the supply of ingredients to high class restaurants in the city. It felt strange comparing such an amazing person with me.

「In order to obtain some things, you need to sacrifice other things. Success is a form of change, you might get it through an unexpected opportunity, but if you want your successes to continue, you will need to change some things.」

I didn’t understand what he was getting at, and couldn’t respond.

Corleone-san continued nonchalantly:

「In order to succeed, I sacrificed many things, accepted changes, and got to this stage. Other than money and power, I didn’t get much else out of it.」

Corleone-san stopped gazing into the shop and looked up at me:

「Monte Company came to scout you?」

「Yes…… Why do you know?」

Momon came to this shop this afternoon, and it had only been a few hours.

「Merchants aren’t the only ones with a good information network.」

Corleone-san snorted and said:

「The boss of the Monte Company is a man born holding talents in his hands, if you leave things to him, your shop will change and achieve success. However, have you thought about what you need to sacrifice?」


His words came out of left field, I never thought about giving up anything.

「Your business booming is a good thing, but to be honest, I’m not that happy.」

「W-What do you mean?」

「I like how your shop used to be.」

He said right after my question, and I fell silent.

「You didn’t have many customers, and I would worry about your shop going broke. There weren’t first class cuisines, wine nor women, and didn’t have anything over the famous shops that I know. However, in this small and rundown shop, there is you.」

He stared right into my eyes.

For some reason, Corleone-san’s words stabbed right into my heart.

「I will use this chance to say this, you are a weird person, your thinking and how you interact with others are different from common sense. When normal people learn my identity, they will change in some way, either avoiding me or sucking up to me. But you’re different. You stayed the same.」

My previous life had nothing to do with mafia and gangs, so I was too ignorant and didn’t feel scared.

I was about to say that when Corleone-san stopped me with a gesture, urging me to hear him out first.

「Your dishes don’t fret the details, and are refreshing and delicious. But the most important thing is enjoying your cooking in this shop on slow days. I could never experience the time I dine here in other restaurants. Interacting with a normal people like you, and having you cook before me is what makes the food delicious.」

Corleone-san took off his hat and set it aside.

「When I look at your dish before me in your shop, I always feel a sense of warmth. I could relax and forget the things that I had lost, and live like the real me. I had never dined together with my family, but to me, your cooking is something similar.」

I felt emotions welling up in my chest.

I never noticed that he thought that way, and this was the first time I realized that someone treasured the dishes I cooked.

「Change is inevitable, all things in the world will change, and we have to accept it.」

Said Corleone-san.

I didn’t say a word, and was overwhelmed by his words.

「However, I can’t accept it this time. To the tourists, your shop is just another popular eatery. To the Monte Company, it’s a business opportunity. But to me—— your shop is a home I can visit.」

I couldn’t stand Corleone-san’s gaze. I didn’t have what it takes to respond to his sincere thoughts right now.

「Since the Monte Company has approached you for business, I will bid against him. Yu, I want to buy your shop.」

My heart thumped, and my lungs spasm as I gasped for air.

「It doesn’t matter how much it costs, I will make sure you won’t have to worry about money for the rest of your life. I don’t think it is expensive no matter how much I have to pay each month. So, I hope you can revert the shop to the way it was, and cook a meal for me? With how busy the shop is, there isn’t any seat in there for me.」

Corleone-san stared at me, then looked away before I could say anything. He picked up his hat and put it on, then hopped deftly onto the ground.

「I’m serious about this, please consider it.」

I could only watch Corleone-san go without turning back, until he disappeared in the dark of the summer night.

I stood before the bench and looked at the shop in a daze.

That was my shop, a cafe I made to create a place I belonged to, a cafe just for me.

And now, people I had never seen before were queuing there.

And they were filing happily into the shop.

I remembered something.

Maybe I just didn’t want to remember, but I couldn’t ignore the facts that were shown to me.

My regulars weren’t coming anymore. I had not seen their faces nor greeted them.

Not since my shop became crowded because of the tourists.


When I returned to the shop, Linaria and the noise from the customers welcomed me.

「What was that about?」

She sensed something from my face and sounded concerned.

I almost grabbed onto her kindness and said it out, but decided against it. Linaria had her troubles too, so if I told her my problem, it would trouble her instead.

And so, I said with a smile:

「It’s nothing important.」

When she heard that, Linaria blinked for a moment.

「…… I see, that’s great.」

She then went back to attend to the customers. I might have said something wrong, and Linaria’s aloof words and attitude made my heart sink.

However, now wasn’t the time to feel down, the orders must be building up. So I hurried back into the kitchen.

After making through the operating hours, I sat at the bar counter inside the empty shop.

The fatigue had accumulated in my body, but I still felt a sense of accomplishment today.

… That would have sounded cool, but today, I couldn’t immerse myself in the sense of fulfillment.

The Monte Company approached me with a business proposal, Corleone-san wanted me to sell him my shop, and the Director said he would entrust Linaria to me.

Each matter wasn’t something that I could solve, how did things turn out this way?

No, I did know the reason, because the Songstress was coming to this city, and that led to my present situation.

I sighed: this is weird.

I always hope to have so many customers.

I boasted that I would make my Cafe a full house everyday, and spread the charms of Coffee. But when it really happened, I couldn’t make a decision.

Anyway, all that happened at the same time. Give me a break, I had too many things to think about.

All this was the Songstresses’ fault, I hope they would take responsibility.

My mind was in such a mess, that I didn’t even realize Linaria had come to my side.

「…… Hi.」

When I snapped back to reality, Linaria was already sitting by my side, which was bad for my heart. Realizing that my heart was pounding, I tried talking to her.

Linaria nodded silently.

「Erm, what’s wrong?」

She wouldn’t sit beside me for no reason.

「You have been feeling troubled ever since Corleone came, right?」


I knew that myself, but being told that so directly still felt terrible. I was really wishy washy here.

「I would be bothered if you worried by yourself like that. So tell me what did he tell you.」

「No, it’s nothing important.」

Linaria’s concern was heartwarming, but that was why I put on a facade.

It was that thing, you know? Saying disheartening words to a girl would wound a man’s pride.

「Speaking of which, are you alright, Linaria? About that matter with the Director.」

To conceal the awkwardness and my worries, I asked her cheerfully.

Since I got the chance to chat with her, I probed without thinking too much about it.

「—— It’s nothing important on my end too.」

Linaria’s voice was filled with rejection.

My response seemed to be bad.

「I’m sorry.」

I apologized unconsciously, and Linaria’s eyes turned even sharper.

「Am I that unreliable?」

I felt the atmosphere changed, and the awkwardness made it impossible for me to look back into Linaria’s eyes. I could only stare at the grains on the countertop.

「That’s not true, you have helped me a lot.」

「But you won’t tell me anything.」

I had no words.

That wasn’t true, we always talked about all sorts of things.

I wanted to say that, but my mouth wouldn’t move. My throat was locked, and I couldn’t squeeze out the words.

「I don’t know anything about you, or where you are from. What are your dreams? Your family? What is troubling you? I don’t know all that.」

Linaria’s words hit me right in my heart.

Why didn’t she know about me?

Because I intentionally kept it from her. When she asked, I would fudge it over or change the topic. I still didn’t plan to tell her that right now.

「Because, Linaria’s problem seems more serious.」

All excuses would either be too long or too short. I tend towards the latter, and my choices were often wrong.

Linaria bit her lips and said agitatedly:

「I think the same way too. Compared to me, your problem is more serious. But you won’t discuss it with me, or tell me what’s wrong. You’re always worried about me, and don’t laugh at my dreams, so I want to support you. But… it seems I don’t qualify.」

I could feel the fiery flame in Linaria’s body getting doused. She stood up with a sigh and said:

「There’s no way I can discuss something with someone who doesn’t trust me, right?」

With that, she went to the back of the shop.

I was left there alone with no other excuses, so I couldn’t chase after her.

I leaned onto the back of my chair and stared listlessly at the ceiling.

Linaria’s words kept running through my mind.

Could I answer her? No, I couldn’t.

Did I have any excuses? No.

I recognized that what she said was true, that I had never talked about myself, and my secretive policy wouldn’t earn any trust. After all, people couldn’t show their weakness to people who didn’t show theirs.

Did I really not trust Linaria?

I arrived at an answer quickly.

That wasn’t true, I trust Linaria.

Then why didn’t I say anything to Linaria? Why didn’t I tell her about my past?

The answer was simple.

After all, I wasn’t from this world.

No matter what I said, it would be prefaced with lies. My place of birth and where I was raised didn’t exist in this world, and I didn’t want to lie to Linaria. I felt fear at the thought of being avoided by her once I told her the truth.

Who would believe a person claiming to come from another world?


Today was a rest day, it wasn’t possible to keep up with a busy schedule without rest after all. I wanted to sleep until noon, but I wasn’t living a solitary life of freedom right now, and couldn’t indulge in laziness.

Breakfast was the same as always, the difference being the lack of conversation between Linaria and me. The reason being what happened last night.

Linaria ate quietly. I kept trying to chat her up, but couldn’t resolve myself to do so, and ended up in failure.

Aina looked at the both of us and sighed deeply, while Doddo remained unfazed.

「I’m full.」

Linaria brought her utensils to the sink, then went straight up to the second floor.

「…… Did that thing from before happened between you two again?」

Aina said exasperatedly.

「This is embarrassing.」

The culprit who made Linaria avoid this place was me at that time too, and now that she mentioned it, I really haven’t grown at all.

「You said yesterday that it wasn’t your fault, right?」

「It wasn’t my fault yet when we spoke that time.」

「So after our conversation, something happened between you and Linaria-san?」

I nodded silently.

Aina nursed the spot between her brows with an accusatory air about her.

「It can’t be helped since it already happened, but what did you do this time? You must have said something thoughtless again, right?」

「Something like that.」

I realized I was being vague.

Really now, wasn’t this the issue? I didn’t consult with anyone about my troubles until the very last minute, this personality of mine was the reason why things became complicated.

「Can you hear me out?」

I mustered my courage and asked timidly. When she heard that, Aina looked at me in surprise, and said with a smile:

「Why are you acting so formal? Linaria-san’s problem and the plebeian’s problem are also my problems. So tell me about it.」

「……Aina seem so dependable right now.」

「I will pretend I didn’t hear that, but there won’t be a next time.」

「My deepest apology.」

Her smile was really scary.

I was consulting with her, but I couldn’t talk about the issue Linaria was facing, so I fudged over that part and explained the series of events.

After finishing the gist of it, Aina nodded and said 「I see.」 She then muttered: 「How bittersweet and innocent.」

「No, there’s nothing bittersweet, I’m serious here.」

「That’s exactly why. You two are living out your youths, how enviable.」

She intentionally sighed, and I felt a little pissed off.

「I will drag you in too then, Aina.」

「No thanks, it doesn’t match my character… By the way, this is a easy problem to solve.」

She concluded that the problem was simple with such confidence that I had to cock my head.

「Linaria-san wants to know about you, plebeian, so you just have to tell her.」


That might be true.

I knew that was the most correct answer, but it was hard to execute.

「…… Never mind, there are things people don’t want to tell others about, so I won’t force you.」

Aina leaned forward and said:

「However, can’t you just tell her what is troubling you right now?」

I crossed my arms. I had actually thought about that.

「I can share my troubles with Gramps Goru or Aina easily, but it’s hard for me to say this to Linaria. How do I put this? It’s like the principle of a man?」


I turned my head at the sudden voice, and saw Doddo covering her mouth with her fingertips.

「Sorry for the sudden sound.」

「It’s fine, I know how you feel.」

Aina shook her head in resignation.

「Man are creatures like that, and will feel bashful when they show any weakness. But you are wrong about that. Showing your strong side, saving others, and being dependable just shows your arrogance.」


My chest hurts when I hear her unfiltered comment.

「I will ask something more basic, did Linaria-san asked you to help her?」


「Then aren’t you being cocky? 『You seemed troubled, so I will talk about it with you.』 Offering help with such an aloof attitude will just turn her off. Especially a strong willed woman like her.」


I never thought that way. I really didn’t, but the important thing was how others saw it. And she might think that way because of my attitude and actions.

「Listen up, plebeian. Offering an umbrella to someone drenched by the rain isn’t the only way to show concern. Some times, you have to keep the umbrella and stand in the rain with them to save their soul.」

「How deep……」

「Indeed, I’m quoting a poem.」

「So you didn’t come up with it yourself, Aina……」

「It’s fine if it fits the situation.」

She said proudly.

「Like I said, you have to show your weak side to her too, that’s the proof of your trust in Linaria-san. Linaria-san doesn’ want someone she can talk about her troubles with, but a relationship where both parties can lean on each other.」

This was something really simple, yet important.

I kept chewing Aina’s words一一 and my doubts were cleared. I felt a clarity in my mind, as if I knew what I should do.

「Thank you Aina. I’m woke now.」

Aina waved her hand gracefully like an aristocrat.

I stood up.

I knew what I should do, and planned to find Linaria……

「…… Wait, where are you going?」

Aina called out to me when I was about to step outside.

「I want to take a stroll.」

I scratched my head and made an excuse, and Aina showed a clear dumbstruck face.

I couldn’t help it either, she showed such an obvious attitude of rejection, so I needed to muster the courage and think carefully about what to say to her.

「Forget it, I won’t say anything more. Be quick.」

「Are you my guardian……」

I was about to leave the shop when I stopped myself.

I turned and asked:



「What will you think if I told you I came from another world?」

Aina smiled as if I was talking nonsense and waved:

「You should be fine if you can think up such a joke.」

She looked relaxed, and I answered with a smile:

「That’s true.」

I left the shop and walked on the streets. I was really happy back when I learned that this world had a summer too.

The scorching sun shone on my skin, but the scene was bright and clear. The clouds stood out prominently in the clear blue sky, and just looking at the summer sky made one feel refreshed.

By walking along the streets, it was clear that the number of people in the city had grown.

This was a city of adventurers built around a labyrinth, but adventurers were a rare sight now. They couldn’t stand the huge number of tourists and had secluded themselves somewhere or stopped work temporarily.

Most people on the streets seemed well off. After all, they came to this city months before the Songstress’ arrival to catch a glimpse of them. Unless they lived nearby, only the wealthy could afford to do so.

I wanted to organize my thoughts by taking a stroll, but couldn’t walk around properly because of the crowd.

I finally found an empty bench and sat down.

Street vendors peddling their wares loudly, and the conversations of pedestrians made the place noisy. And this was on a normal working day, which was a big surprise. Everyday would be like a festival before the Songstress leaves this city.

I stared at the crowd walking by.

The summer sun seared my face, and it was a little too hot to be sitting outside. I could feel my grown out hair absorbing the heat from the sun.

Suddenly, a shadow fell over me, and I looked up.

「Hello there.」

The one blocking the sun was the Director standing before me. He looked even more frail than I last remembered, and his black priest robes were wrinkled.

「Can I sit beside you?」

I was shocked by the coincidental meeting and nodded. The Director sat down heavily, his body seemed as heavy as lead.

「Sigh, this heat is really troubling, summer is almost reaching its peak.」

「Right, I want to have a summer break too.」

「Haha, that’s a good idea, rest is important too.」

The Director laughed heartily as he took out a handkerchief to wipe the sweat from his brows.

「I was about to visit your shop.」

「Right now?」

「Yes, I’m actually planning to leave the city tomorrow.」

The Director put his hand holding a handkerchief on his knee and looked towards the streets.

「I wanted to speak with Linaria before heading back. It will be great if you can help me arrange a meeting with her tonight.」

「You’re going back… So your fundraising is completed?」

The Director looked at me and then said while scratching his cheek:

「Yu-kun, can you keep a secret?」

「I’m very tight with secrets……」

At this moment, the Director leaned in close, wary of any eavesdropping. I knew that wasn’t likely, but still played along and leaned in.



「I came up empty.」

He lost all his strength.

I thought it was something important.

「It didn’t work out?」

「Not at all. It’s hard to find people willing to donate to the Orphanage in this era. Even if people are willing to listen, I couldn’t persuade them.」

The Director was smiling, but it must be tough.

He must be skipping meals these days, given his sunken cheeks.

「Please keep this a secret from Linaria. I don’t want her to worry.」

The Director reminded me.

I heard that line before.

Keeping quiet in order to not worry others. This might be a form of consideration, but it was also rejecting others too. The other party might not be worried, but I finally understood how Linaria felt like she wasn’t being trusted.

「However, Linaria probably wants to know the truth.」

When I said that, the Director blinked and then said with a smile:

「Yes, that might be so. Because that child is always thinking about what she can do.」

「Despite that, you still want to keep her in the dark?」

This was a question I wanted to ask myself. Should I share everything, or continue keeping it a secret? I wanted a sign to solve my problems.

Director wiped his sweat away again with a bitter smile.

「Yes, I will hide it from her. If I tell her I didn’t raise the funds, she will definitely worry. And then, she will ask me to take the salary she earned while working in your shop.」

As expected of someone who knew Linaria well, he was right on the mark.

「And if that happens, I will lose my position, right? Linaria might admonish me for not telling her, and I can only apologize when the time comes. After all, this is just my willful wish.」

「Willful wish?」

「That’s right. I used to be her guardian, and I still think of myself as one. And I’m also a man, so I want to show my cool side too.」

He winked at me, and I laughed.

I see, a wilful wish, huh. That was one way of thinking about it.

Somehow, the term wilful wish seeped into my mind.

「I see, I get it now.」

「Right. Linaria will scold you if she learns about this, saying something like all men are dumb.」

I could imagine Linaria saying that with a sigh.

「Has she always been like this?」

「Yes, she often scolds me too, and the kids in the Orphanage too. She’s a big sister after all, and the children still loves her despite of that.」

I only learned recently that Linaria might look like she was hard to approach, but she was actually great at taking care of others. Maybe she learned that naturally in the Orphanage, and those who knew that side of Linaria wouldn’t hate her.

「Linaria has always been a quick learner, and can do many things, which is why she worries more than others. Because she will do everything she can, I often wonder whether I should praise her or scold her.」

「She’s still the same.」

「She’s a straight forward but clumsy kid. She has dexterous hands though, and would often cut the hair of the other kids in the Orphanage.」

「Oh~ she can even cut hair?」

I asked in surprise. The Director nodded firmly and said with a big smile:

「She is good, and can answer the unreasonable demands of the kids, I even ask her to cut my hair too.」

「That sounds great.」

I stated my honest thoughts, but the Director suddenly showed a bitter face:

「But I can’t run when I’m getting a haircut, right? So she will use the chance to preach at me and ask me to get it together. Those were good memories.」

The Director showed a gentle expression as he reminisced about the past.

I felt glad that someone was protecting the Linaria I didn’t know, taking comfort that she had a warm person like that with her. For Linaria, those must be happy times.

「Pardon me for asking but… Is the fundraising going alright?」

The Orphanage was important to Linaria. If the Director, who was like a father to her, was troubled. And if this important place was in danger of vanishing, Linaria would want to help.

I must look pathetic, since the Director laughed exaggeratedly:

「It’s fine, there will be a way. I can’t just give up on persuading the nobles.」

The Director kept his handkerchief and stood up.

「Thank you for listening to my rant. Because of you, I’m motivated to try again, this is the last attempt before my return trip. Sorry, but can you tell Linaria that I will go over tonight?」

「Yes, but……」

Will she listen?

The Director seemed to have read my mind and nodded:

「If not, I will come again. I will keep coming until she is mentally prepared.」

He said before clumsily merging into the crowd. The summer sun cast deep overlapping shadows, and the Director’s figure vanished with the mob.

Willful wish, huh.

Those words were left in my mind, and fell right into the middle of the worries in my brain. Everything was tangled together, but if I pull on the ends, maybe I could tidy the threads.

Time to head back to the shop.

I wanted to speak with Linaria, I felt that I could say it out if it was now.

I stood up and pushed my way into the crowd.

When I returned to the shop, Doddo and Aina were gone. I steadied my breathing and perked myself up before climbing up the stairs.

I stopped before Linaria’s room, lifted my hand and took a deep breath.

I didn’t need to be so tense, but my heart was pounding. I followed the rhythm of my heart and knocked on the door.

No answer, should I try again? Maybe she was out.

As I was worrying about that, the door opened. Linaria showed her face, her estranged eyes made my heart hurt.

「…… What?」


I said forcefully to get over my jitters.

Oh no.

I thought about what to say, but didn’t think about how to start.

I was stumped, and Linaria looked at me in surprise. We fell into an awkward silence, and I thought: It doesn’t matter what, I need to say something.

「Can you cut my hair for me?」

「—— What?」

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