The Past and Reunion
※ This is told from Manaria Sousa’s point of view.
“Hey, Claire. It’s been a while.”
After arriving to the Imperial city after a long journey in a horse carriage, I was greeted by my lovely little sister-like figure.
“You’re as cute as always, Claire. In the time we’ve been apart, it feels like you’ve become even more beautiful, huh.”
“Fufu, how flattering. But nothing will come out of complimenting me, you know?”
Claire, who was giggling, was genuinely really adorable, though.
She was a bit more thorny in the past, but she had become much softer recently.
“It’s not like I’m just trying to flatter you or anything, you know? You’re really cute, Claire. You’ve become even cuter than before. Is it thanks to Rei?”
“G-Geez…..! Onee-sama, you’re saying something that Rei would say, aren’t you!”
So she says with that attitude, but she did not look unsatisfied.
“Seeing as how you’re not even denying it, I must not be far off the mark. I’m a bit sad that my precious little sister has been taken away from me, though.”
“What are you saying, onee-sama? I’ll always be your little sister, right?”
Claire said as she gave me a hug.
A little sister, huh.
In the past, she’s looked at me with a romantic gaze before, but now, her eyes no longer gleam with that color.
I was the one who purposely went out my way to turn away from her feelings for me, so perhaps the loneliness I feel right now is just because I’m only human.
“Fufu, I’m glad. You seem well, Claire.”
“Yes. I could say the same to you, onee-sama…… Ah, or should I refer to you as ‘Your Majesty the Queen’ instead?”
“Please don’t. If you call me that now, it’ll just send chills down my spine. Although you’ll formally have to refer to me as much in the political world, at least when we’re together like this, just call me by what you always have.”
“Fufu, I understand.”
Her eyes looked like they were just teasing me.
This was also something that had changed about her from the past. Her eyes used to have a crueler shade to them, but now they had become clear.
“Is Rei doing well too?”
“Yes, she’s as fine as she can be.”
“I see. I’m sorry I couldn’t attend the wedding.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You’re the monarch of an entire country, onee-sama, and the two of us are just average citizens. It’s only natural that you weren’t able to come.”
Not being able to attend one of the most important celebrations in my beloved little sister’s life was a choice that wasn’t easy for me to make.
“You must’ve met with Tred-sensei a while ago, but have His Majesty Sein and the others arrived yet?”
“Yes, they got here just before you. After guiding them around briefly, when I heard that you’d been arriving shortly afterward, I decided to wait around for you.”
“I see. Thanks, Claire.”
When I smiled, Claire responded with a grin as well.
“How is it, living in the Empire? When I heard that Bauer wanted to send you here, I was about to stop supporting Bauer almost on reflex.”
“Geez, onee-sama. I’m living much more comfortably than I’d thought. Although, I was bit nervous at the beginning.”
“Even though you have Rei with you?”
“Don’t make fun of me, onee-sama.”
Claire quickly turned her face away.
Those gestures of hers are cute as well.
“Ahaha, sorry, sorry. I’m just getting a bit of revenge since you’ve become distant from your elder sister, so please forgive me.”
“I don’t remember becoming more distant from you, though? I don’t feel like I’ve been spoiled enough yet.”
“You’re saying things to make me happy, huh.”
“It’s the truth, though.”
While we were having our conversation, one of my attendants encouraged me to get a move on.
“Let’s talk while we walk, then.”
I took Claire’s hand like I was escorting her and began walking.
Claire responded to the gesture naturally.
“About the three way alliance…… I’d like to apologize for what Bauer did to you.”
The alliance planned to include Sousa, Appalachia, and Bauer for the sake of resisting and fighting back against the Empire, but it never ended up being formed.
On the contrary, Bauer Kingdom was at risk of being targeted, so as a result, they had to send Claire and the others out here to avoid that.
“Please don’t apologize for it. As a politician, you’re just looking out for your own country and trying to make the best choices for it. Meanwhile, I’m just a former noblewoman. I can understand this much.”
“I appreciate you for saying that.”
Claire’s level of understanding regarding her surroundings had improved as well.
In the past, her field of vision was narrower, and although her short-sightedness was kind of cute, she seems to be much more mature now.
It feels a bit lonely that the person who instilled that change within her wasn’t me.
“Was Rei angry about it as well?”
“At the beginning, she was incredibly frustrated. However, she knew how determined I was about it, so we thought it through together. I’m sure that she understands just how much you agonized over it too, onee-sama.”
“I’m glad if that’s the case.”
My second love.
She was somebody who loved Claire above all else, and when it comes to Claire, the color in her eyes change.
Despite what Claire just said, I can’t help but feel like Rei feels some kind of resentment towards me.
Of course, just like what Claire mentioned earlier, Rei probably understands my position.
But this and that were two different things, and since I threw Claire into such a difficult position, I’m sure Rei would not forget this.
“It’s fine. Rei is quite fond of you too, onee-sama.”
Claire said, smiling as she tried to reassure me.
She really has matured quite a bit.
Unfortunately, I had never been able to fall in love with Claire, but I could tell that she’s matured a lot.
But I never looked at her romantically.
Claire was too similar to that person.
Her exterior, as well as her true nature.
My first love.
It was something that I felt pain and remorse over.
“Speaking of which, where’s Rei? It’s rare to see you two apart.”
“…… His Majesty Sein asked me the same thing earlier, but it’s not like we’re with each other twenty-four seven, you know?”
“Even though you actually want it to be that way?”
Claire responded when I poked fun at her.
Even this part of her reminded me of that person.
“Rei is running other errands today. She’s gathering some documents along with some of her former students.”
“Wow. Since it’s Rei, I’m assuming that all of her students adore her, right?”
“That’s not exactly the case. While most of her students seem to love her, there’s one girl in particular who seems to dislike her.”
“That’s rare. What kind of girl is she?”
I was a bit interested.
What kind of girl would hate a person that I fell in love with?
“She’s a bit of a withdrawn person. She’s very taciturn and when she does speak, only insults come out. Oh, and speaking of which, it’s a bit uncommon, but she wears glasses as well.”
‘Oh?’ I thought to myself.
Perhaps this was just because of the bitter memory that I had recalled earlier, but the person that was being described right now seemed very similar to the person I was thinking about.
“What a strange girl. She sounds like somebody I once knew. May I ask for her name?”
“Well, it’s Eve. Eve Nunn.”
“…… What did you say?”
Hearing that name made me flinch.
Because that name――
“Wait a minute, Claire. Eve? Did you just say ‘Eve Nunn’?”
“Yes, that’s right. What’s wrong, onee-sama?”
“No way…… That girl…… No way……”
The person I had wronged.
My beloved, whom I had hurt.
The girl who had disappeared from my sight, like she was just an illusion.
“Claire, please take me to her! Right now!”
“W-Wait a moment, please calm down. What happened with Eve?”
Claire looked completely confused.
But she was undoubtedly not as dismayed as I was.
I mean, that girl is――
“She was one of my maids, and the first person that I had fallen in love with.”