The next day, Ratoka dragged his heavy feeling body even though he felt exhausted and slightly sick, and brought some of the seeds he picked yesterday with him to meet Elise.
The seeds Ratoka had were about the size of his hand, and they were pinkish in color. While they can’t be eaten raw, they’re really sweet and delicious if they’re boiled.
Certain plants are good for recovering body strength when eaten, Ratoka remembered the sister that had taught him those words. Since Elise has a weak body, he thinks they’ll be perfect for her.
While sticking to the shadows as much as possible to avoid the heat, Ratoka wondered if Elise would still be expecting him, since he hasn’t visited her in so long.
However, when he arrived at the garden, he saw Elise looking down from her window with a dejected expression on her face, and his heartbeat increased rapidly.
He rushed towards her window and called out her name, and when Elise noticed Ratoka, her expression was one of surprise and joy.
The greeting he got in return was the exact same as his. Even though he used to hate it so much, maybe it’s because of Elise’s overjoyed expression, Ratoka didn’t even mind that one bit anymore. Although it’s annoying that Eliza changed his name on her own, when Ratoka thinks that it’s Elise’s name, he doesn’t mind so much anymore.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t even say anything…… and I didn’t come to visit.”
“No, don’t worry about it. ……Since you haven’t been to see me, I was worried. I wondered if something happened to you……”
Her relief at seeing him alright was evident to see, and her dazzling smile caused Ratoka to feel a prick of guilt inside his chest. He made Elise worry about him, and that he also doubted whether Elise would worry about him, that was causing him to feel guilty, so once again he lowered his head and apologized.
Then, he held out his gift in an attempt to make himself feel better.
“Um, this. I gathered it for you.”
He grasped the seeds tightly while his heart started beating faster again. Since Elise’s room is on the second floor, he’s going to have to toss them up to her.
What if she said she doesn’t need such a thing, his heart was pounding. After all, she’s still a noble. What if she doesn’t like these seeds, that even most commoners don’t bother looking at.
While Ratoka was waiting nervously, Elise tilted her head in confusion. Then, to the shivering Ratoka, Elise asked a question in wonder.
“Gathering? Er, what’s that mean?”
It was such an unexpected response, that Ratoka’s brain could no longer process what was going on.
Ratoka could only reply in a goofy voice, and look at Elise blankly. Silence fell for a moment between them.
She had asked, what’s that mean. That’s what he had heard, and although Ratoka took five deep breaths, he still couldn’t understand her question at all, which couldn’t be helped.
Some things Ratoka would consider normal in order to survive as a child, however, normally nobles don’t make food for themselves, and on top of that, Elise has always been sickly and grew up confined inside, so Elise has basically no common sense about everyday life at all.
– Suddenly, giggling could be heard from within her room. At hearing it, Ratoka’s back became stiff.
When Ratoka had been put into the barracks, he’d forgotten that he was told to not come to the mansion. Although it should seem obvious, the mansion is for nobles to live in. As a commoner, he basically shouldn’t even be allowed close to here, Ratoka began to remember that fact.
That was another reason he stuck to the shadows in the first place when coming here, Ratoka just remembered. Although, there was no guarantee that someone else wouldn’t be with Elise.
“What is it, Maya. Why are you laughing like that?”
“……Nothing, ojou-sama. It’s just that, I’m sure that your friend Elise-sama must be very shocked. Excuse me.”
While Ratoka remained completely frozen, Elise started talking again without paying it any mind. The other voice answered Elise calmly.
“Various plants and fruits are edible, and can be harvested and picked, this is called gathering. When Eliza-sama was telling you stories about her time in the barracks, surely she mentioned this as well?”
“Yes, indeed. ……So that’s what gathering meant.”
Because she understood, Elise smiled happily in satisfaction and turned back to Ratoka. Ratoka instantly smiled in return as well, but he knew that his cheek was still twitching.
That person in Elise’s room, must have already known of Ratoka coming to visit many times already. That person must have always remained silent every time he came to visit. He wondered if she was always listening to their conversations in secret.
He had always thought that these nice, peaceful conversations belonged to him and Elise alone. And, Ratoka had also felt like there was something even sacred about it.
Ratoka was – at this moment, his cheek kept twitching, and complex emotions filled his entire head.
Elise is a noble. Surely nobles must be accustomed to having someone else listen in on their conversations, it must be natural to them.
She didn’t know what the word gathering meant, and this was normal to Elise as well, meaning to her, Ratoka hasn’t said or done anything bad at all.
However, she had been so different from his image of a noble. That she really is a “noble” after all, he feels like he’s suddenly being confronted with that fact. An impression that still remains deep within Ratoka, of a “noble” that the sister with dawn-colored eyes despises.
“What’s the matter?”
Elise was looking down at Ratoka again, tilting her head in wonder.
“-No, thing? I’m fine?”
Their standing positions relative to each other by height, seemed as if to reflect the power relationship between them as well, and Ratoka gently looked away from Elise.