“Now then, please watch over the house for today. Claire-sama and I will be heading off for school now. As for lunch……. Alea, can I ask you to handle this? All you need to do is warm this up.”
“Let’s head out, Claire-sama.”
““Have a good day~””
After being sent off by the twins, we left from the dormitory for Bauer students.
We walked down the main street in the Imperial capital city on the way to the academy.
As usual, the streets were still packed with people.
There were a lot of people of different nationalities that came and went by as Claire-sama and I walked down the streets.
Since Mei and Alea took the day off today, we didn’t have to spend time dropping them off at or picking them up from school.
Because of that, despite having that long conversation with them, we had more time than usual.
We had time to enjoy the scenery around us this morning.
“It’s been a while since we could go to school so leisurely like this, right, Claire-sama?’
Claire-sama had been acting a bit strange since a while ago.
I could tell that she was worried about something.
I wonder what it was.
“Claire-sama, is there something wrong? There is, isn’t there?”
“Don’t just decide that on your own…… Well, you are right about it this time, though.”
Claire-sama smiled bitterly before heaving a huge sigh.
“I feel like I’ve lost some confidence in myself.”
“Your confidence? What sort of confidence? Do you feel like I don’t love you enough? If that’s the case, let me help you regain that confidence tonight.”
“Rei, is screwing around all you can do? I’m trying to have a serious conversation here.”
“…… I’m sorry.”
“Well, you’re just trying to cheer me up, aren’t you? I can tell since we’ve been together for so long.”
“However, for the time being, please listen to what I have to say seriously,” Claire-sama continued.
“When Mei raised the issue to us about not wanting to go to kindergarten, the first thing I did was try to persuade her with logic. However, you took a different approach, didn’t you, Rei? The first thing you did was hug Mei and Alea.”
Apparently, the difference in our approaches came as a huge shock to Claire-sama.
I started to understand what Claire-sama was so worried about.
“I don’t think what I was trying to say was wrong. It was logical too. However, I hadn’t taken Mei or Alea’s feelings into consideration. You could say that…… I tried to push what I thought was the correct answer onto them.”
Claire-sama said as she knitted her eyebrows.
“On the other hand, the first thing you did was ask Mei and Alea about how they were feeling, and what they wanted to do. I think your way of handling the issue was correct……. No, it was the better approach. When I compare your approach to mine, it makes me painfully aware of just how traditional my way of thinking is.”
“Haah,” Claire-sama heaved another sigh.
That’s not good.
“Claire-sama, please wait here for a moment.”
Claire-sama had a bewildered look on her face as I walked over to a nearby fruit store.
“Hello miss, could I buy these strawberries?”
“Calling me ‘miss’… That’s a good one. I’m practically an old woman already since I’ve got a daughter around your age.”
“Eh, I couldn’t tell.”
“Ahaha, flattering, aren’t you? I’ll throw in some extras. We’re approaching the end of the season for them anyway.”
“Thank you very much.”
After paying for strawberries, I took the paper bag full of them with me and went back to where Claire-sama was waiting.
“Here, Claire-sama. Please take one.”
“You went to go buy sweets again…… We weren’t even finished with our conversation, though.”
“Yes, I intend to go back to that. But for now, let’s go for a change of pace.”
“What a hopeless person,” Claire-sama said as she gave in and reached for a strawberry.
Although the saleslady mentioned that the season for strawberries was coming to an end, the sourness and the sweet taste that spread in my mouth made it seem like they were freshly picked.
These were good strawberries.
“It’s delicious, isn’t it.”
“Yes. These were probably grown by skilled farmers. Personally, I think it’s similar to how parenting works as well.”
“? What do you mean?”
Claire-sama wore a puzzled look on her face as she reached for another strawberry and put it in her mouth.
“I think that having experience is important.”
“Eh!? Rei, do you have experience in raising children!?”
Of course, when Claire-sama asked about my child-raising experiences, she was referring to my past life.
“No, no, that’s not it. I don’t have any experience in raising children. If anything, I’m speaking from the experience of how I was raised. Do you remember when I told you about the story regarding my first love?”
“Of course. You’re referring to the situation involving that messy love square, right?”
That was back when I fell in love with Kosaki, which ultimately led to a series of complications that left me confused and hurt.
“Back then, my mother had acted just like I did earlier today. Just like with Mei’s case, there was a period of time where I didn’t want to go to school anymore either.”
That happened right after my first love was completely torn to pieces.
“I’ve always felt grateful for how I was treated back then. The current situation just happened to be really similar to it.”
“I think you were raised as too much of a good girl, Claire-sama.”
“Too much of a good girl?”
As I mentioned before, prior to becoming a villainess, Claire-sama was an incredibly obedient and good girl.
If anything, she was too much of a good girl.
“This is just a guess, but perhaps because you were raised as a noble by your mother, your upbringing placed heavy emphasis on things like moral correctness and fulfilling one’s duty.”
“That……. may be true.”
“Right. That’s why, to Claire-sama, the response that you gave earlier was something that you believed to be correct. And this might raise a bad memory, but Miria-sama was probably also good at explaining things to you, and you were always obedient, so you never had to run into any trouble.”
Claire-sama had a somewhat distant look in her eyes.
She was probably recalling some of the memories from the past back when Miria-sama was still around.
Just as a reminder, Miria-sama was the name of Claire-sama’s late mother.
“In fact, even in my previous world, there was a divide about the purpose of education. Is it to fit the individual into the mold of society’s expectations, or is it to respect everyone’s individuality? The education that Claire-sama received was probably closer to the former, while mine was more similar to the latter. Both of them have their own advantages and their drawbacks, though.”
I took a bite out of another strawberry before continuing.
“For example, with Mei’s case earlier, I think it was possible to talk her into going to school too, and in some cases, I bet that would’ve been the better solution. This time, things played out a little differently, but my approach easily could’ve made the two of them never want to go to kindergarten again.”
“But in the end, you found the right answer, Rei.”
“It just comes down to experience – like how you disliked ballroom dancing, and how I refused to go to school. I felt like Mei’s situation was similar to mine. That’s why I even went as far as interrupting you with what I wanted to say. I feel really lucky that I was able to say it well and that it worked out.”
Both Mei and Alea were quite thoughtful for children their age, after all.
“In any case, what I wanted to say was, I don’t think Claire-sama’s way of parenting is wrong or anything. I think it just has to do with the time and place.”
“……. You’re not saying that just to comfort me, right?”
“I mean it from the bottom of my heart.”
“…… Thank you, Rei.”
With that said, Claire-sama held the last strawberry out to me.
“As thanks, I’ll let you have the last one.”
“Please feed it to me. Ahhn.”
“Fufu…… you idiot.”
Despite her words, Claire-sama still fed it to me.
Yep, this one tasted 50% sweeter than all of the others.
“There’ll probably be a lot of times where I’ll make mistakes as a parent as well, so when the time comes, I’m counting on you to help and point them out to me.”
“Fufu, I understand. I’m looking forward to working with you from now on, Rei.”
Although we weren’t fighting or anything, I could feel the heavy air that surrounded us disperse.
Since Mei and Alea were really important to us, there were times where we’d seriously worry about them to this degree.
However, if possible, I wanted the two of us to think through it and discuss things together as much as we could.
And I’m sure Claire-sama felt the same.