Saturday, February 26, 2022

Have a Cup of Coffee after School in the Fantasy World Café V6 (6 of 7)

 Chapter 7: Like The Snow, And Courage




After rolling around in bed to my heart’s content, I looked out the window. The sky was gray, blocking the sun and making the streets dim. It should be the afternoon now, but I couldn’t tell the time.

The shop had stayed closed for a few days. The snow kept falling.

I sat on my bed, then laid down. I stuffed my head into my pillow. I felt something under me. I reached for it, and found the paper with everyone’s signatures. I checked it from time to time, then folded it before setting it aside.

The blank part of the crumpled paper was prominent, but there were still a few names left. They would disappear soon, but after checking it for an entire day, nothing happened.

The signs of the Labyrinth Shift was probably the catalyst. It was coming soon. The paper would turn blank, and no one would remember me.

The snow peltered the windows. The curtains were drawn, but there wasn’t any sunlight, and the room was dim and stable.

I opened my hands, and the paper fell by my bed like some wilted leaf. I grabbed the blanket by my feet and covered my eyes. There was still some remnant warmth. I didn’t care about the cold wind and sound, and protected myself in the darkness.

I closed my eyes. I wasn’t sleepy. All kinds of emotions were mixing in my head. I could just let it all mix, and then disappear quietly. There was no need for me to feel troubled.

I hugged my knees and curled my body. It was dark and warm inside the blanket. It was quiet enough for me to hear my heartbeat.

I emptied my mind and counted my breathing.

Breath in, one. Breath out, two. One, two, one, two, one, two…

My mind kept spinning in the same place. The numbers kept rolling.

At this moment, a foreign sound barged in. I woke up. I felt sleepy from the waves of numbers.

I took a deep breath. My head felt heavy.

Splat. There was a dull thud. I thought it was my imagination, but there was another splat.

Someone was making that noise. Something was hitting the window.

I pulled down the blanket and showed my face. The icy air pricked my skin. Another thud came from the window. The frame was shaking.

I got out of bed and approached the window, but the visibility was terrible because of the snow. I opened the window, and wind mixed with snow blew in. I felt an impact on my face.

【That hurts.】

My face was cold and covered in snow. I wiped my face and looked down. Linaria was there. Our gazes met, and she put a snowball she made by her feet, and pointed to the shop.

【Hey, open up.】


【You want me to turn into a snowman?】

She was smiling, but her voice was serious. From the snow covering Linaria’s head and shoulders, she had been throwing snowballs all this while.

【Yes, right away.】

I dashed down the stairs. Why was Linaria here? She should be mad at me. Ahh, I hadn’t washed up.

There were many things I wanted to say. Put simply, I was getting anxious.

I turned on the lights and heater on the first floor. After opening the door with a key, I saw Linaria before me. I wasn’t dreaming. She stopped dusting the snow off and looked at me. A while later, after we had gauged the distance between us:

【… May I go in?】

【Yes, of course.】

I held the door open and made space for her. Linaria entered the shop. I closed the door, and the chime rang quietly.

Linaria hugged herself with her coat still on. She must be cold.

【Come this way. I will light the hearth.】

There was still unburnt firewood in the hearth. I took some bark for starting a fire and set it up in the hearth, then lit it with a match. It caught on fire immediately, then I added small firewood. When the fire had stabilized, I put in big firewood. It will be warm soon.

【Nice technique.】

【I have been doing this everyday, and have gotten used to it.】

I went to the counter, and added water into a kettle. After putting in tea leaves, I picked up two cups, adding sufficient sugar into one of the cups. I went back to my seat, and saw Linaria sitting on her coat before the hearth.

I went to the hearth and squatted down, then hooked the kettle and hung it over the fire.

I turned back and felt troubled. The coat was laid out wide. Linaria was seated on the left side, and left an empty space.

Linaria averted her face while hugging her knees. She looked up unhappily at me:

【Aren’t you sitting?】

She would punch me if I asked if I could sit. I applauded myself for seeing through that, and sat carefully beside Linaria.

We sat shoulder to shoulder with our hands around our knees, and stared at the fire in the hearth. The flame licked the silver kettle. I could see the yellow fire near the overlapping wood that was swaying like a living being.

Linaria and I were silent. A while later, steam came out from the mouth of the kettle.

I got closer to the hearth and crossed my legs. I used the hook to move the kettle away from the fire, careful not to spill anything. I put it on the floor, pulled my sleeve down as a makeshift glove, then poured water out from the kettle into the cups. Tea with a faint brown color warmed the cups. I put down the kettle, then proffered the cup with sugar to her.

【Careful, it’s hot.】

【Yes, thank you.】

Linaria took the cup with both hands and looked into it.

【… It’s not Café au lait.】

There wasn’t much Coffee beans left, so I drank it all with Falluba-san who was going back to his village. More accurately speaking, Falluba-san drank it all.

【What is this?】

【I don’t remember the name. I got it from a regular who said the tea leaves came from the west.】

Linaria looked unhappy.

【It’s fine. I drank it before, and it was good.】

【But you don’t even know the name?】

【A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.】

【What’s a rose?】


I fudged it over by blowing the steam from my cup. I took a sip from the refreshing Oolong tea. Linaria looked at me uneasily, then carefully took a sip.

【… Hmm, it’s so so.】

【I added sugar, does it taste good with that?】

【You never tried it, and you served it to me?】

Her gaze was sharp, and I averted my eyes.

【It’s fine. I know a country where people add sugar into their tea.】

【Is that— something that happened in your world?】

My heart thumped strongly. I turned my head slowly. Linaria was looking at me with serious eyes.

【Don’t lie. I want you to tell me yourself, Yuu.】 She said, 【Are you really not from this world?】

Linaria stared right at me. I could see the flickering fire in her pupils. I held my cup tightly, and nodded a little.

Is that so, she said softly, and then continued:

【… I said something mean back then. I’m sorry.】

【It’s fine. I don’t think anyone will believe me.】

【It’s not fine.】 Linaria shook her head. 【I’m just being wilful. I got nervous on my end, lost sight of things, got depressed and mad… I didn’t consider Yuu’s feelings.】

【So, I’m sorry.】

She muttered quietly. Linaria covered her face with her knees.

I couldn’t suppress the feelings in my heart. Linaria was with me, and she was trying to understand my feelings, and covered her face as she apologized clumsily. I felt a mixture of emotions, but my feelings could be summed by these words:

【You are so cute.】

【I’m talking about something serious here. I’m going to hit you, you know?】

【I’m very sorry.】

It seemed I had misspoke. But I didn’t regret it.

I heard a sigh, and Linaria facepalmed herself.

【Really now. You messed up my rhythm. I came here to apologize.】

【Like I said, I forgive you.】

【No, I can’t accept it.】

【Yes you can. I’m glad you came to clear things up with me. Thank you for coming.】

I expressed it honestly with my words. There wasn’t a fake smile, nor was I joking or speaking niceties.

Linaria frowned, then grumbled.

【… You are too sly.】


【Yes, sly. If you say that, then I can’t say anything.】

【That’s how I am, it can’t be helped.】

【Ahh—, I can’t hear you.】

Linaria cupped her ears and averted her face. Her exposed ear tips were red. I couldn’t help smiling.

【You laughed just now, right?】

【I didn’t laugh.】

【Stop lying.】

【Why don’t you check for yourself?】

【Absolutely not.】

Ohh, it’s really Linaria. She was sitting right here, covering her ears and looking at the wall.

【Why are you here then?】

I thought we would part just like this. Because I hurt Linaria deeply.

【… Among your acquaintances, there is a nosey student who likes berets, an Elf woman who has a thick book, and a buff man with a tight apron, right?】

【That’s right.】

They were Aina, Levi-san and Falluba-san. So he was still wearing that apron. Did he wear that everywhere he went?

【Those three asked me to meet you. I didn’t know how they got into the academy, telling me they are from the Coven, the top regular, or things like that. But thanks to them, I can apologize to you properly. I need to thank them if we meet again.】

My chest felt stuffy. Aina, Levi-san and Falluba-san were all worried about me til the very end.

【I need to thank them too. They will come here on Nightless day, right?】

【Isn’t that tomorrow?】

She said exasperatedly.

【Huh, it’s so soon?】

My sense of time was a mess, because I kept staying in my blanket.

【You even forgot about that.】

【… Sigh, how embarrassing.】

Since I would disappear before the party, I set aside all my troubles.

Linaria kept her face between her knees, and spoke after a short hesitation.

【Hey, are you really going back?】

That was a difficult question to answer.

Even so, there was only one way I could answer.

【There doesn’t seem to be a way for me to stay.】

Linaria replied: 【Is that so.】 An uncomfortable silence fell. Just like the sun setting in the sky, I couldn’t do anything about it.

【Hey, want to go for a stroll?】

I didn’t want to spend my time with Linaria in that gloomy mood. Even if this was the end, I wanted my time with her to be spent in our usual style.

My sudden proposal made Linaria open her eyes wide.

【A stroll, in this snow?】

【It will be fun.】

I stood up and saw Linaria making an exasperated face, but she then smiled in resignation.

【Well, that is so like you.】

I extended my hand. And Linaria held it. I pulled her up, and she was unexpectedly light. She had basically pushed herself up.

【Why the grumpy face?】

【… Because I didn’t show my manly side.】

【Then work hard in other aspects.】

I picked up the coat that had been laid down, then remembered I was still in my pajamas.

【Let me change real quick.】

【Want to put on some makeup?】

【I will try. I have a great lipstick.】

After cracking some jokes, I went to my room and changed into warm clothes. I picked up the paper on my bed, thought about it, then put it into my coat pocket.

I went downstairs, and saw Linaria all ready in her coat and scarf.

【Sorry for the wait.】

【You are dressed so lightly? It’s really cold.】

【It will be fine.】

I put on a strong front, but when I walked out the shop, the chilly wind brushed against my neck and stomach. It was cold, and I was shivering.

【Really now, I already told you.】

Linaria looked at the snowman. It’s body was completely covered by the snow. She reached for its neck, then took off the black ribbon she tied on it.

【Let me borrow this.】

She brought the ribbon to her mouth, then focused as she muttered something quietly. There was a faint glow in her hand.

【Put this on.】

【It’s my turn to be a snowman, huh?】

【You want to be decorated beside this kid?】

【Allow me to kindly refuse.】

I took the ribbon she gave me. It was from the snowman, but it was warm for some reason. When I coiled it around my neck, I could feel a warmth negating the cold.

【This is heating magic and wind breaker magic. I won’t last long, but it’s enough for a stroll.】

【You’re a big help. Being a snowman isn’t too bad.】



Finally, the wind calmed down. The snow floated down slowly. We walked side by side in the snow.

【We strolled like this before.】

【You still remember?】

【I won’t ever forget.】

Back then, we walked down the street in the rain. I learned about the dream Linaria was chasing. She wanted to be a Medical Mage, and I told her 【You can do it.】 My words were baseless, I just thought that way. And now, my words were coming true. Linaria passed the tough enrolment test into that specialist school, and would be leaving this city soon.

Back then, I already thought that this day would come. I would stay in the shop, while she would step into the wide and bright world. So I knew the day of parting would arrive sooner or later. It just came a bit earlier than I expected.

I was distracted by my thoughts, and slipped on the frozen ground. My butt hit the ground, but it only hurt a little since the snow cushioned my fall.

【Are you alright?】

【Sigh, I keep falling down these days.】

【Okay, grab my hand.】

I grabbed Linaria’s hand. I used my legs to push myself up, but it felt too easy.

【… It hurts my pride as a man a little.】

【Instead of how much strength you have, it’s more important how you use it. But you are a bit scrawny.】

【I will train myself…】

【That’s great. Let’s go.】

She held my hand again, and she led me on.

She was still holding my hands. I couldn’t avert my eyes. Was she unaware?

I looked at Linaria. Her ears were completely red. That wasn’t just from the cold. I squeezed her hand, and Linaria’s slender fingers squeezed back.

A lady passing by looked at us with warm eyes. How did other people see us? Being dragged along like this made us look like a lost child and his guardian. I suddenly sped up and walked beside Linaria. I glanced sideways, and she was silent with a blushed face. She just strengthened her grip.

My face must be red too, and not because of the cold.

We walked and looked around the streets, but my attention was on the warmth in my hand. I was sweating from nervousness. That was true for Linaria too, but I didn’t mind it.

We didn’t talk about where we were going, and went straight down the street. When we neared the city center, the crowd grew denser. We could see a few groups of students in uniform.

I gently let go of her hand, thinking that people might gossip about Linaria in the academy. But she grabbed my hand right away.

【What? You don’t like it?】

【… That’s not true.】

【Then don’t act up.】

Linaria walked forth boldly. The students we passed by were stunned. After we went by, they started discussing something.

【Is it fine? We were really prominent.】

【Let them say what they want, they have lots of free time anyway.】

That made me really happy for some reason.

【This way.】

She led me to a side street. She urged me as we walked, and we climbed up a flight of stairs. We turned the corner to another stairs. The path was cramped. Finally, we saw a clock tower. The path was winding and obscured by the buildings. We climbed up the stairs and made another turn. The clock tower was closer now. After repeating for a few times, we finally reached it.

【… This is my first time here.】

The top of the stone clock tower looked really tall. It was the tallest structure in the city, but I never had the chance to visit.

Linaria pulled my hand and went to the back of the tower. There was an old wooden door there, with a large padlock. Linaria wasn’t fazed as she approached the door and took out a dark gray key. After inserting the key, there was a clicking sound.

【Why do you have the key?】

【That’s a secret.】

【I didn’t know you have such a side.】

【Don’t you know? I’m a woman filled with mysteries.】

The heavy door was opened slightly, and we slipped right in.

It was dark inside, and smelled like dust. It wasn’t spacious, with crates and gears piled haphazardly together. A spiral staircase was hugging the wall.

【Could it be…】

【You guessed right.】

【At least let me finish.】

【I saved you the trouble. We are going to climb it.】

I was confident in grumbling nonstop, but Linaria pulled me before I could say anything, and started climbing the stairs. I had no choice but to follow.

So we started going round and round up the spiraling staircase. I was losing my breath. My legs were heavy, and the hand holding her was stretched out.

【You are slow.】

【I don’t really exercise, you know?】

【It’s great that you can take pride in that. Alright now, let’s work hard.】

I couldn’t rest properly, and kept climbing the stairs. Linaria encouraged me a few times along the way, and we finally reached the top.

In the center of the room were gears turning in a machine. There were some taller than me, and some that were palm sized. Numerous gears turned together, and the sound of the metal was irritating. I looked up, and there was an open ceiling as well as a large bell hanging from a beam.

I lightly pounded my shoulders, and Linaria pointed to one end of the room. There was a narrow path. We went around the gear assembly, and our field of vision suddenly widened.


I heard a cocky grunt, but my gaze had been drawn, and I didn’t turn back.

I looked down at the city.

There was a hole in the wall, large enough for the both of us to pass through side by side. A clock face covered the hole, and we could see the city below through the numbers and lines on the glass.

The city spread out below us. I could see the walls around the city, the open plains beyond it, and the mountain range in the distance. Everything was covered in white.

【This, is my secret hideout.】

Linaria who was beside me said.

【When I first came to this city and enrolled into the academy, nothing went smoothly. All the students were nobles, so I couldn’t even make friends. People looked at me from afar, and didn’t even talk to me, there wasn’t any place for me to go.】

She smiled bashfully.

【One day, I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to go back to the village. When I fled out of the academy and wandered the streets, I found this clock tower and sneaked in, then watched the city like this. I stayed until the sun set, and the houses in the city started turning their lights on, illuminating the night… In this city, the number of lights is equal to the number of people living here. When I saw that, I gave up on that thought. I felt there would be a way, and would try harder tomorrow.】

She touched the clock face and looked down at the city, smiling as if she was reminiscing her past.

【The old man managing the clock tower found me, and gave me a stern lecture.】

She looked at me with a smile. She was fudging things over with those jokes, but it was clear how important that moment was to Linaria. When baring your heart to others, it would be embarrassing if you didn’t do that.

There was no way I could imagine how tough it was for her. And I was really glad that she was sharing all this with me.

【Then, we will get scolded again if we got found out.】

【I have the key, you know. I got permission for this.】

【How did you get it?】

Linaria stuck out her tongue.

【The manager was exasperated because I came too often. So he lend me the spare key on the condition that I help out with patrols and cleaning.】

【Those terms aren’t bad.】

【He said he can’t take it if he had to climb the stairs every day.】

【… I know how he feels.】

We sat down side by side. The sight of the snowy city drew us in. We didn’t speak, but our hearts were one. We were looking at the same scene, enjoying the same time, and thinking about the same thing.

I could feel it really clearly.


I said.


Linaria answered.

【All this while, I wanted to go back.】


【Since no one knew me, and my family isn’t here.】


【I didn’t get the culture, there’re also nobles, and no entertainment.】


【I felt sad and lonely everyday, crying as I thought why I had to suffer like this. I really hate my time here.】


【But, if it is now.】

I looked towards Linaria.


She looked back at me.

【I don’t want to go back anymore, after all…】

My memories were glittering. I had a normal life, without any adventurers in the Labyrinth, going on journeys, or making money with great inventions. I just opened a Cafe, lament the lack of customers, and chat with the occasional queer patrons— that was how I spent my life, and those times were sparkling in my mind.

After all,

【You are here.】

I still remember the first time we met. Your eyes were as blue as the ocean, and your hair was like the sun in the sky.

My hesitation was gone. I didn’t have any doubts that the girl sitting beside me, with her hand in mine, was my only star.

【I, love you.】

The world didn’t change even if I said that.

Even so, I still want to believe that there was meaning in my words.

There was value in expressing my feelings.

Linaria looked back at me. Tears welled up from the corner of her unchanging blue eyes.

【I, love Yuu too.】

As expected.

As expected, we were looking at the same scene, enjoying the same time, and thinking about the same thing.

【Hey, why are you smiling?】

【Because I’m happy.】

It was amazing that something like that happened.

I confessed my love, and she said she loved me too. She wasn’t me, but we shared the same feelings. This was a miracle.



【Let’s get married.】


Linaria opened her eyes wide, and her mouth opened and closed silently.

【Actually, I was a witness during the wedding of an acquaintance. I think it is wonderful.】

【What do you mean wonderful…】 Linaria facepalmed. 【The reason is too whimsical.】

【It’s fine. I have decided.】

The important thing was to resolve oneself. And I understood that feeling just now.

Light suddenly shone in.

It started slowly from a corner of the room, and moved like the shadow of a door opening. The snow had stopped, and the thick clouds in the sky had parted. The crimson rays extended from that gap. The snow covered city was sparkling under the sunlight. The sun was setting between the mountains.

Linaria stood up, and touched the glass clock face. I stood up too.

【Even though you’re going back.】

She said,


I answered.

【Even though you will be gone.】


【I hate that we can’t talk again.】

【Me too.】

【I want to hear your voice more, go out together more, and taste more of Yuu’s cookings.】

【I’m sorry.】

【Will you remember me?】

【I will never forget you.】



【In that case.】

Linaria turned around. A crimson light came from behind her, and she was all smiles. That was a really beautiful smile.

【I won’t ever forget you too. Even when Yuu is gone, I will keep liking you.】

When the last light from the sun faded, tears rolled down her cheeks.

【Let’s get married.】

I hugged Linaria. I felt I should do that, and so I did. She wrapped her arms around my back. She rested her face on my shoulder and sobbed softly. I felt useless that I could only make her cry.

Ahh, why did I…

With the end looming, why didn’t I notice? She was here all this while.

I held back my tears. I hugged Linaria’s slender body tightly.

The sun set behind the mountains. The last light from it narrowed into a slit, and finally disappeared. Night was upon us.

It would all end soon.


We had a clash of opinions, but I insisted on doing things my way, and we parted ways in front of the shop.

【Hey, I should…】

I shook my head at Linaria who was making a bitter face.

【It’s fine, let's part ways here.】

We wanted to be together until the last moment. But what if she forgot about me because of the Labyrinth Shift?

My heart started aching when I imagined Linaria looking at me as if I was a stranger.

So, this was fine.

【Let’s do it like usual. Linaria will go back, and I will watch you go. Please.】

Linaria pouted, then glared at me frustratedly.

【… How sly.】

【This is my last request.】

【You think you can be forgiven for anything if you say that?】

【You got me there.】

We were reluctant to part, so we kept standing in the cold night sky. However, time continued moving, and we couldn’t stop it. The time would come sooner or later.

【— Well then, I’m going.】

【Yes. Achieve your dreams. I’m sure Linaria can do it.】

【Thank you. Take care of yourself, Yuu.】

We searched for the things we should say. We realized this was the final moment.

There were so many things I wanted to say, but nothing to bid farewell forever.

So we held hands and looked at each other’s faces. As if to engrave the face we promise to never forget into each other’s mind.

【Goodbye then.】

I said, and Linaria frowned.

【At times like this, you should say ‘see you.’】

Even the last thing she said was so like Linaria.

【I see. Let’s try this again— See you.】

【Yes— See you.】

Linaria backed away step by step. We kept holding hands, until just our fingers were touching, before we separated.

She was backing away, but she suddenly turned around and walked away. A while later, Linaria’s figure disappeared into the crowd.

I opened the door of the shop, and heard the familiar chime.

I took off my coat and hung it over a chair. I went to the counter and put on the apron. This was the place I had always stood at. I then looked around the shop.

I met all kinds of people here, and learned many things. I got to have a variety of conversations. Everything I owned in this world was right here in this shop.

So I chose to meet my end here.

At the start, there wasn’t anyone in this shop. My customers grew before I knew it, but now, they were all gone. Everything had reverted back to the start. However, I still had her. And that was enough.

I searched for a bottle in the kitchen rack. There was a handful of Coffee beans there. I kept this Coffee blend right for the end.

I took out the Coffee maker with practiced movements, then added water into the beaker. I wiped away the water droplets before putting it back and turning on the heat.

My body remembered the movements after countless repetition. I carefully confirmed each step and executed it.

I poured the Coffee bean into the grinder and turned the handle. There was resistance, followed by the sound of the beans being grounded. When I opened the grinder, the fragrance of the Coffee spread out. This aroma called up the memories I had so far.

The beaker was boiling. I added Coffee powder to the flask on top, and inserted the funnel. The hot water rose up with the pressure to the flask. I then used a wooden spoon to stir the Coffee powder with the water.

The bubbles in the beaker increased, the steam and aroma of Coffee spread out from the flask. After all the water rose up, I waited for a moment. I really like this time.

Seeing that all the Coffee had been extracted, I turned off the heat. I stuck in the wooden spoon again and stirred slowly. When I took out the spoon, the water in the flask had flowed back into the beaker. Slowly and carefully.

After a big bubble popped, the extraction was complete.

I took out the beaker with the handle, and poured the Coffee into a cup. The color was great. I picked up the cup to enjoy the fragrance, then took a sip.


Ahh, good times.

I thought about the past, and this shop was filled with happy memories.

There was a tremor with a clattering sound. The lights were swaying, and the shaking grew in intensity.

I put down the Coffee.

I surveyed the empty shop, and closed my eyes.

Then, the world shook hard.



Life needed to be comfortable.

Comfortable meant not needing to be worried about others, being bothered by others, a time for you to indulge.

An example of such a comfortable time was wiping the glasses like this.

The freshly washed glass was still wet. I used a clean cloth to pick up the glass, and wiped it. I cleaned the brim of the glasses, paying more attention to the part where the customers’ lips would touch. After wiping all of them, a clean art piece without any fingerprints was born.

I looked at it under the light. It was mesmerizing. And this was what being comfortable meant.

I placed some of the cleaned glasses into the cupboard, then carefully arranged them. When I was done with that, I shifted my attention to the next chore.

I picked up the black folded apron on the counter, then tied it around my waist. I was ready to open the shop.

I walked out of the counter, then walked around the shop once more to check for any garbage, the arrangement of the chairs, and the cleanliness of the tables.

This place used to be a tavern, and was quite spacious. There were ten counter seats, four sets of four-people tables, and three sets of two-people tables. There were still empty spaces despite of that. I was the only worker. And this was manageable for me. And the reason was, there weren’t many patrons.

After making my rounds, I walked outside.

Clouds were drifting freely in the incredibly clear sky. In contrast with the snowy weather yesterday, the sun was very warm. The snow was melting on the streets, and water was flowing down the roof. The snowman in front of the shop was about to crumble.

【Is this a restaurant?】

I heard a greeting, which made my shoulders jump. A girl was standing beside me without me noticing. The eyes looking at me were a vibrant blue. She had a high ponytail, tying up her vermillion hair that was as bright as the sun.

【— Of course, but this isn’t a normal restaurant.】

She was blinking away her tears, but she was smiling. I also smiled at her.

【This is the only Café in the world.】

It happened on a clear day. I met her in front of this shop. We were repeating the lines from our memories.

【Hi, Linaria. We meet again.】

She walked over and pounded on my left chest.

【Why are you still here?】

【I wonder why. I don’t know either.】

【You are really strange.】

【But it’s not my fault this time.】

【That doesn’t matter, instead of that…】

Linaria came closer, and rested her forehead against my chest.

【Anything is fine, as long as you are here.】

I completely agree with her.


【Why are you still here?】

Levi-san looked at me with a serious face.

【I want to know that too.】

Linaria, who was sitting beside me, glanced at me sideways with a dubious face.

Just now, Levi-san who was holding a book appeared in a panic. She said the blank pages of her book had returned to normal.

【Did the Labyrinth Shift really happened?】

【Without a doubt.】 Levi-san nodded. 【The Labyrinth Shift happened last night. We have confirmed the mana tremors. It is strange that you didn’t disappear.】

【Sorry about that.】

【Ah, that was rude of me, I apologize. This is an abnormally.】

【It is that rare for otherworlders to stay?】

In response to Linaria’s question, Levi-san answered.

【Without any connections to the world, disappearing with the Labyrinth Shift is the norm. There had been no records of otherworlders staying before.】

【So this guy not disappearing is because of his connection with the world?】

【Logically speaking, that should be the case, but it’s impossible.】


【Such a way is impossible for humans. According to legends, only dragons have the power to connect an individual to this world, but it’s just a legend that can’t be verified.】

【Erm, sorry, but what is this power of a dragon…?】

I said hesitantly. Levi-san cocked her head and explained.

【There was an archaic custom known as the dragon bride. The Gaishyu clan once offered a bride to the dragon. If the bride was accepted and received blessings, then the wedding will be linked to the world, and they will be happy even in their next lives. The dragons have vanished for centuries, so now, the Gaishyu clan is just worshiping the dragons as their tradition dictates.】

What she said deviated from Falluba-san’s explanation. Was it a difference of perspective between dragons and humans? Or the story was changed with the passage of time? I couldn’t tell.

But, why was I still here? I already thought of a reason.

【You have any clues?】

Levi-san asked.

I glanced at Linaria, and she was looking at me with eyes that said 【So you really did something.】

【No, I have absolutely no idea.】

I answered with a smile. I was confident in my business smile.

Linaria sighed heavily.


I’m tired, I want to sleep.

After saying that, Linaria climbed up the stairs. She didn’t sleep last night. The reason was me, so I felt sorry about that.

Levi-san was sitting in her usual seat, and reading a book as always. Her face was serious. I was the reason for that, so I felt really sorry.

No, it’s because of Falluba-san, or rather, it’s all thanks to him.

I was about to rest my cheek on my palm at the counter when the door chimed. I looked over, and Arbel-san walked in with ragged breath.

【Sorry, Cafe Master, I completely forgot.】

【It’s fine.】

【Why did I forget? I don’t understand either.】

My cheeks softened when I saw Arbel-san desperately trying to explain herself. They finally remembered me. That alone was enough to make me glad.

【It’s really fine. I understand.】

I consoled her repeatedly, but Arbel-san was still panicking. She suddenly lowered her head, then looked up at me like a child that was being scolded.

【… Will you, really forgive me?】

【Of course.】

【Well… I heard there will be a party today…】


Now that she mentioned it, that was true. I didn’t pay it much mind since I was going to disappear. I was supposed to host a party for Nightless day, and I had not invited Arbel-san yet.

【Sorry, I didn’t get the chance to see you. If possible, can you join the party?】

Arbel-san nodded with a girlish smile.

【This is a problem though, I haven’t prepared the ingredients and beverages yet.】

What could I do about this? It would be great if there were still food available in the market.

While I was thinking about that, my shirt was tugged.

【… Actually, I have ingredients from the Labyrinth as souvenirs. I hope it will be of help.】

【Really? That’s a big help.】

Arbel-san kept taking ingredients out of her bag of holding and put them on the table. There were a lot, but considering the number of participants, I felt uneasy about the quantity.

The door chimed again. 【Yooh.】 A silly greeting came. It was Gramps Goru. He had a lot of paper bags in his arms.

【Oh, long time no see, Yuu-kun. For some reason, I completely forgot about today. I rushed here in a hurry.】

【My apologies, I forgot about it too.】

He was followed by Ms Secretary, whose face was covered by the things she was carrying. They were all ingredients.

【It’s fine, I’m glad that you can come. And you brought so many things too.】

【Bringing food as gifts when invited to a Nightless day party is a tradition. So I brought a lot of it here.】

【I see, that’s why…】

At this moment, the door chimed again.

【Good morning, Yuu-san! I’m really grateful for your invitation!】

The fastest courier in the city, Shilulu, barged in. When she saw Gramps Goru and the others, she greeted loudly 【Hello!】

As if a fuse had been lit, my regulars came in one after another. Everyone brought a gift and called out my name. The tables were piled up with things in no time.

【… What an amazing quantity.】

I crossed my arms before the pile of ingredients. I wasn’t worried about the lack of quantity anymore, and wondered whether we could finish it.

【Looks like it’s almost the finale.】


【What, that was rude.】

Aina was standing beside me before I knew it.

【Can you not scare me?】

【You frightened yourself for nothing, Yuu-san.】

She then surveyed the shop.

【Well, it’s not strange for you not to notice me in this situation.】

Everyone was picking up the food and drinks and enjoying themselves. It was so noisy that I suspected that people had brought in wine too, and I couldn’t even hear the door chime.

【So, how are things with Linaria-san?】

【We made up.】

【That’s great.】

【You talked to Linaria about it, right? Thank you, you are a big help.】

Aina averted her face.

【Really now, it’s all because you two are so worrisome. It’s about time for you two to calm down.】

【I’m ashamed.】

Aina already helped me a lot. If not for her, I wouldn’t be able to pull myself together.

【We can finally celebrate Linaria-san’s enrolment!】

【—Oh, right.】

Linaria would be going to a far away city. That fact weighed down on me again, but it wasn’t as unbearable as before.

【Will you be lonely?】

【Of course. But, it’s just a little far.】

【Not a little, it’s really far.】

I smiled at Aina’s exasperated tone.

【It’s much closer than going to another world.】

She looked stunned, then suddenly relaxed and showed a gentle gaze.

【It hasn’t been long, but you have become more reliable.】

【I’m a man too, so I have to show my reliable side.】

【Yes, I already noticed.】

Aina left before I could say anything.

With a chime that drowned out the noise, a tall man walked in.



The Skipper surveyed the shop.

【Hmm, this is a big crowd.】

【Yes, this is great.】

【It proves that your shop is beloved. I feel foolish about coming here to convince you.】

【Convince me?】

【I’m retracting my retirement announcement. I used the funds I raised to buy a new ship. After lecturing you about all that, I decided to show you how a man should live.】

He patted my back.

【That seems unnecessary now. Your keel is strong now. It seems you have influenced me more than I influenced you.】

I concurred with a nod.

【This is thanks to everyone.】

【Then you have to properly repay them for the favor. And you can leave your beans to me.】

He laughed heartily, which gathered the eyes of everyone in the shop. The gazes soon fell elsewhere. A carriage arrived at the shop, Momon and Corleone-san were there. Food was almost spilling out from the back of the carriage, and a cheer rose from the crowd.

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