It seems that without me realizing it, the stories about me showing the shape of snowflakes and letting everyone at the Shiru children’s tents meet Rashiok have been heard by the farmers’ children. Well, I probably should have realized that it’s impossible to stop children from gossiping, and it’s fine, anyway.
Come to think of it though, recently children have been sticking to me so much with me as the center of attention that it’s like I always have a flock of them following me around everywhere, so I have been thinking about setting some boundaries.
“The Shiru children are hogging Eliza-sama! We want to play with her as well!!”
“Eliza-sama’s living in our tent! There’s nothing wrong with anything!”
“It’s unfair that only you guys get to play with the draconis!”
“Even if you say so, none of you came over to become friends with Eliza-sama until now!”
“Why haven’t you guys ever called for us!? You’re just hogging Eliza-sama! Isn’t it more fun to play with everyone!?”
“It’s not like I’m the only one with Eliza-sama, so how can I be hogging her! Besides, Eliza-sama isn’t a toy!!”
A Shiru girl and a farmer boy were struggling to pull me in their direction from opposite sides, having an argument. Well, simply speaking, this is a children’s quarrel. Judging from their comments, it seems that the children are getting a little overly fond of me.
Maybe I’ve done a bad thing. From their point of view, they might not want to let go of me when I have to leave them. But still, being tightly packed in by dozens of children every day, it’s an indescribable feeling and it’s causing me to break down. It’s, a bit crushing.
“Then, it’ll be great if Eliza-sama can stay in our tent starting from today!”
“Stop saying such silly things, Reka! Didn’t the clan leaders decide where Eliza-sama would be staying?”
The farmer boy holding on to me by wrapping his arms around my stomach behind me seems to be a boy named Reka who speaks with a bit of a countryside accent. Since I haven’t interacted with the farmer children in the other tents at all, I don’t know him at all. The other girl who’s pulling me is a Shiru girl named Tira that’s currently in front of me with her arms around my neck; she’s usually in charge of helping take care of me. Although they’re bickering, it’s more like friendly banter, so I think they actually get along pretty well with each other. However, why are they getting so heated up with me in the middle?
Is this where I should step in and tell them to stop arguing over me? I just tried to lose myself in thinking and ignoring reality in front of me, but I soon regretted it when my vision began to darken.
I finally felt an icy sensation in my head, along with a painful throbbing sensation. Urk, my neck, my stomach, they hurt so much from being tugged on.
Ahh, am I going to die here? Dying of suffocation thanks to a girl who’s only one or two years older than me pulling on my neck, or will I be crushed to death, or choked to death……
“Oi, you guys had better cut it out already! Reka, Tira! Eliza-sama’s turning pale.”
At that moment, a boy cut through the wall of children surrounding me, making me view him almost like a hero descending from the sky in the nick of time. He peeled both Reka and Tira’s arms off of me, and knuckled both of them on the head. He’s about the same height as Tira, and is shaking his silvery-blue hair. – Oh my, this guy’s definitely familiar.
When I muttered the name I learned the other day, he instantly turned his head towards me. On his face was a look of surprised innocence, shock that I remembered his name.
“You…… remember my name?”
“Of course. Rather than that, thank you for helping me. It was getting a little painful.”
“It was probably a lot more than painful. You were turning dreadfully pale.”
I just looked directly into his look of surprise, and shrugged. It was indeed painful enough that I had prepared for death. Now that I look closer at him he smiled a slight smile which was somehow a bit mesmerizing, and then he gingerly started pulling me by my sleeve. When I noticed what he was doing, Athrun was getting angry with and scolding Tira who had calmed down and looked like she was apologetic, as well as a boy who’s exactly my height and a little shorter than Tira.
Well, this boy seems to be the one from earlier called Reka. While his eyes were darting in every direction nervously, he apologized to me together with Tira.
“I’m really sorry, Eliza-sama……”
“I definitely won’t do this again, Eliza-sama……”
With Tira and Reka’s apologies, the surrounding children seem to have regained their senses as well, and they all looked a little guilty as if they had done something wrong.
Well, now that some of their eyes are watering up, erm, how to say it, now I’m starting to feel like I’m the one who’s guilty of doing something bad in reverse. Well, to begin with, it’s really because of my lack of thought in not stopping them.
“N, no…… I’m sorry as well to everyone. Even though I was showing off some rare things, it was unfair of me to not call the children from the other tents as well.”
I remembered Reka’s words from the argument just earlier, and I lowered my head in apology and self-reflection as well. If someone with a lot of new and interesting toys just made friends with a lot of other people but not with you, well, of course that would make you feel left out.
The main causers of the quarrel in the first place, Reka and Tira, as well as Athrun looked at each other with looks of incomprehension as if they couldn’t understand why I was apologizing as well. And when they looked at me again, Tira stuck her tongue out at me mischievously, while Athrun had a wry smile and Reka seemed to be overjoyed with a big smile on his face.
“The next time I come up with something fun, I’ll invite you guys along as well. I’ll talk to Teo and ask if I can stay in the farmer children’s tents as well. Will that be alright with you?”
While Reka was looking overjoyed again as expected, he also turned around to look at all the other farmer children and nodded at them – the ones that were complaining it was unfair – then he turned back to me and replied “that’s great!” It seems that although Reka is slightly short, he’s probably one of the leaders among the farmer children.
“I never would have expected Eliza-sama to apologize to us, but if Eliza-sama wants to come play with us, that’s totally fine. We’ll make sure to get along with the Shiru children.”
As Reka grinned widely, Tira apologized as well to him as a leader among the Shiru children, and they made up at the end with a hug. Is this what making up with each other is supposed to be like, I wonder.
Both of them had also lowered their heads when Athrun came to arbitrate between them. Just the other day there had still been some class struggles between them left behind from the time of the now defunct Artolas Kingdom, but it seems that these divisions weren’t deeply ingrained into them yet and that they’re children that listen to reason. Well, I could only smile wryly as I’m still a little older than they are mentally even though I’m roughly the same age as Tira and the others on the outside.
“……Reka. Um, can you stop using the term, ‘Shiru children?’ For all of us, the Shiru tribe, or lower class, none of that exists anymore. All of us are now Arxians, and have become citizens of Kaldia.”
Athrun turned around and said that to Reka with a complicated expression on his face. It looked just like his expression from the other day. Did he understand my meaning, is he agreeing with me, is he carrying out my will?
“……Mmm. I got it, I won’t say that term anymore.”
I wonder if Reka was there as well on that day a few days ago, Reka took a glance at me then nodded joyfully.