I worried over this a lot–whether to give this to her as a present.
After all, she is a princess. Even things I think of as ‘uwah?! so expensive?!’ is probably like ‘ara, is it that cheap? ufufu’ to Nell.
And I don’t even know the brands or what kind of designs she likes. Besides that, stuff which come in handy for an adventurer also doesn’t feel right to give as a present.
And so, I decided to have luck decide the value of the present for me. Although now that I am actually giving it to her, I feel my judgement has been bad.
The reason behind thinking that is, Nell just kept listening to my present explanation and didn’t say anything. Tears still didn’t stop flowing from her eyes.
“….Sorry, I should have gotten something a bit more appropriate. Just a gem like this is a bit—”
“That’s not true!”
Just when I was about to withdraw my hands, Nell stopped me with both her hands. Her soft, white hands covered my wrist gently. And she also gripped really hard, as if to never let go.
“I… I am very happy… If it’s a present from Kurono-kun, anything is fine…”
The feelings are what matters when giving a present. Even such lip service sounded true when coming from a beautiful angelic girl while she holds your hand.
No, at the very least, Nell would have been happy no matter what I gave her. Even a cheap gem or a potion.
And so, hearing her say that made me feel that she understood how I felt.
“I am really grateful to you, Nell. Thank you for everything—”
I wish I could have expressed it with better words but at this point, such simple words were the only thing which came to mind. If I start revealing any more of my feelings, ‘reluctant to part’ would be the least of my worries. And I might not even be able to stop crying if I start once.
And so, I expressed my gratitude and had her accept my present. That’s good enough for a farewell with a friend.
However, Nell kept holding my hand and didn’t let go. She should know that I am trying to leave.
“No… don’t… say that…”
“Sorry, Nell. I will be leaving now.”
I gently softened Nell’s grip with my free left hand.
Nell just gazed at me doing it and didn’t resist. Just that the tears flowing from her eyes just kept increasing.
Just when I finished undoing her grip, she broke out in even more tears and didn’t stop.
“—no! I don’t want to part! I don’t want to part with Kurono-kun!”
However, once I let go of her hands, she came at me with her whole body.
Although I was surprised, I just quietly let her hug me. I can’t possibly push her aside now that she has become completely like a sobbing child.
Having said that, I also don’t have the determination to hug her back.
It’s not like I feel resistance hugging a princess in front of everyone. It’s just that… I am scared I will not be able to let her go if I hug her once. Even though I was able to undo her tight grip, I am not so sure about her passionate hug. I don’t know.. I don’t have the confidence.
“Don’t go… Please, please… don’t go anywhere…”
Nell herself probably knows she is asking for the impossible. But even then, she probably can’t help saying it. Her losing control so much is also proof to how much she cares about me.
“Even I don’t want to be apart. I wanted to talk more. I also wanted you to teach me magic till the end. Now that I think about it, I have only been on the receiving end of favors.. and we didn’t even go have fun… I am sorry.”
“It’s fine… It’s fine with me.. If I can just stay beside you, Kurono-kun…”
She raised her face which was buried in my chest and smiled.
Nell’s friendship is real. It’s exactly because she is so kind that she can be this pure without having love-related thoughts.
On the other hand, I am not sure if friendship is the only thing I have for her. No, I am undoubtedly feeling attracted to Nell. There’s no way I won’t be feeling it.
“I am sorry, Nell—”
And so, I finally hugged her back. I firmly embraced her weak body as she kept crying.
‘Ah’–Nell let out a small voice in surprise. I wonder what kind of a face she is making right now. I am curious but I can’t see.
Avoiding her big wings, I had my left hand go around her waist and my right gently on her head. She also can’t see my face but she probably can hear my loud heart.
Reluctance to part, love and a bit of lust made me hug her back. It seems my rationale or self-control isn’t that good.
But this is the end so it’s fine.
“–Thank you. Goodbye.”
Cutting apart all lingering affection with those words, I let Nell go. I half forced her away by pushing her shoulders.
“Ah… ahhh…. wait, Kurono-kun….”
To escape Nell’s hands which extended for the third time, I nimbly got on Merry. Without looking at her, I just looked straight at the road I must cross.
Even then, her despair filled expression was burnt into my brain like a curse and attacked me incessantly.
I didn’t say it specifically to anyone. I just let myself hear it and ordered my horse to move forward.
With a loud neigh, Merry took a strong first step forward filled with dark red auro.
“–Go! Go and come back, Kurono! I shall pray for your continued luck in battles, Element Master!!”
Will finally raised his voice, erasing Nell’s crying voice. He probably did it on purpose. He probably knew how hard it would be for me to listen to her cry.
As gratitude to his consideration and with my feelings of ‘leave Spada to me’, I thrust my right hand in the air. I didn’t look back. I only need to proceed forward.
As if to signal that, once again, applauds and cheers broke out from the people around us. With raging waves of cheers pushing our back, we crossed the front gate.
I couldn’t hear Nell’s voice anymore.
Lily called out, looking at me with beady eyes. She was in front of me, using my belly as the back of chair.
“It was good that you got to have a proper farewell with Nell, huh?”
She said with an affectionate smile.
Ah, am I being consoled now? – I thought, as a drop of water fell on Nell’s cheek.
“So, don’t cry.”
Her small hands wiped my tears. I felt a bit ticklish as her soft fingers followed the tear on my face.
“Thanks, Lily. I am fine…”
Yeah, I am fine. With this, I am done with all the farewells. All the sad and painful farewells are done.
All that’s left is to fight–