I smiled and shook my head at their concern. At first, they were cold, but once I made an effort, even a slight change in the weather made them come here like now. The problem was that there were more and more of these people. Those who were shy when they were actually warm people.
Amaterin said she would take me to her home in fear that I would be suffering all night.
“(I’m really okay.)”
“(Do as Ami said, Renia. The weather is really bad. I will take you back here tomorrow morning when the typhoon clears up.)”
They really didn’t have to do that. When I refused again, Amaterin and Kuren said they would stay here to protect me, which made me have no choice but to listen to them. Eventually, I put on a coat and followed them. Their house was on a lower terrain than my cabin, so I had to go down.
In the middle of winter, days without snow were rare, so the snow didn’t melt. Every time I stepped on the ground, the snow buried my knees.
“(There are a lot of snow.)”
“(Right? But in the spring, flowers bloom as they always did.)”
“(Flowers… they must be pretty.)”
“(Renia, do you like flowers? I really like flowers. They are very precious here.)”
I paused for a moment at Amaterin’s question. Amaterin, who was in front of me, looked back and then looked at me with a puzzled look. Behind me, Kuren quietly waited for me to walk again.
I walked along Amaterin again and said, “(No, I don’t like it very much.)”
“(Really? But you have a pretty face like a flower. Why don’t you like it?)”
“(…I don’t know either.)”
After my knees were buried dozens more times, we arrived at their home. As we took off the snow from our feet and entered the door Kuren opened, we were greeted by the hot temperature.
“(Because Amaterin doesn’t like cold weather.)”
Kuren filled the fireplace with more firewood in case the firewood decreased while they were out. As soon as Amaterin came in, she hurriedly took off her coat, poured hot tea into the cup, and called me.
“(Come here! Let’s warm up first and have dinner.)”
After dinner, I got busier. I organized everything I had for dinner and put a layer of wooden boards outside the home to keep the windows from breaking from the typhoon. It wasn’t like this when I lived in Shiseta, the northern part of Kashinev. But their winter wasn’t compared to this place.
Amaterin and Kuren’s house had double doors. One by one, Kuren and Amaterin lit up a beautiful pile of candles in the shape of a castle.
“(Renia, come here too.)”
People here had a custom to light a candle and pray like this every evening. Every day, they prayed briefly for the comfort of their families or wished for something earnest and performed a ceremony like blowing out candles. Not long ago, I received some white candles from Amaterin. I used them to keep the lights off and on at night.
“(I have nothing to pray for.)”
“(Do it though. You can pray for the sun to come out tomorrow morning. Right, Kuren? Sometimes I pray for money to fall from the sky! I don’t forget to pray that I want Kuren to be healthy every day.)”
“(That’s right. You can pray for anything.)”
Then Kuren hugged Amaterin by the shoulders and kissed her on the head. I had no choice but to smile and put my hands together at the sight of the two.
Come to think of it, did I ever pray earnestly? I’ve definitely prayed for it but seeing that I’ve never got it made me think it was useless to do that. Still, Amaterin looked at me sparklingly, so I thought it would be good to believe it again.
I closed my eyes more slowly on the candle with my hands together. The candle glistened even when I closed my eyes.
I hope everyone will forget me. And I wished my feelings were much duller than they are now. And… Later, even if it was very late, I wished I could see his smiling face at least once.
Soon I opened my eyes again. Maybe my eyes were closed longer than I thought, but Amaterin was looking at me with a smile.
“(Did you pray?)”
I nodded at her words.
“(Good job! It will come true when you think about it.)”
After that, Amaterin, who was ready to sleep, entered the room and came out with a very large and thick blanket. Kuren, who couldn’t help but groan at her, approached and lifted the blanket. Then, as Amaterin pointed out, he set down the blanket in the middle of the living room.
“(Kuren, we need to get another one inside.)”
Amaterin sat next to me, thinking it was time to sleep. Then, she spread the blanket that Kuren had put down.
“(The three of us will sleep here today. On a very cold day, I prefer to sleep in front of the fireplace. It’s okay if you want us to stay up and talking all night long.)”
“(Won’t Kuren be disappointed?)”
Then Amaterin snorted. “(What do you mean? That’s what Kuren wanted to do. Even before we bring you.)”
In an instant, a thick and heavy blanket covered my body. I could understand why Amaterin was struggling with it before. I began to feel sleepy as I was drying my wet hair with the heavy blanket covering my body.
“(Sleep if you feel sleepy, Renia.)”
“(Yes, I will do it later.)”
Even if I fall asleep right now, I will wake up less than three hours later. After that, I wouldn’t be able to sleep until morning, so I had to stay up all night. I usually only spend my time blankly when I’m alone, but today it was better to hold on a little longer. I can’t spend time sitting far away alone.
“(Come to think of it, how many months has it been since Renia came here?)”
“(It’s been over two months.)”
After finishing all the arrangements, Kuren brought a cup of tea and sat beside Amaterin. At Kuren’s words, Amaterin was stunned.
“(Two months already?)”
“(It’s already been that long?)”
“(Right? When I first came, I wondered what kind of doll she was. And there were very few people who came from other continents. It was kind of hard, right?)”
I smiled at them. In fact, my heart had been tortured more than sleeping in a cabin like a warehouse. It couldn’t be okay even if I tried to be okay.
When the surroundings got dark, I remembered the day I learned the whole truth, the day I left the man who first gave me his heart, and the day I gave poison to my mother.
One day, I dreamed of Sir Shubart’s resentment; another day, I saw Valery in tears. On some days, I could feel my mother’s pain, and on other days, Delkian came to me and drove me away.
Every time I closed my eyes like that, one by one, the days continued to resent me. A few times, I woke up in shock, and later, even if I felt numb about it already, I would wake up slowly and be completely engulfed in that thought.
I wasn’t happy. And I couldn’t be happy. Even though I left everything, I couldn’t feel that. But maybe if I hadn’t left there, I would have been caught in a bigger nightmare. Even though I had already released all the shackles that bound me and ran away, it seemed that I needed a little more to find peace in my heart.
“(Still, I’m glad I came here.)”
Amaterin asked in surprise. At the same time, she said, “(What’s good about cold weather in where you live half of your life in the snow?)
“(Originally, I lived in a cold region for quite a while. I didn’t like it because it was cold back then, but I sometimes remember it. I feel like the lighter it is, the more comfortable I feel. Then I guess I just have good eyesight.)”
“(Right, you said you came from the land below, right?)
People here called the eastern and southern continents as the land below.
“(They say the four seasons are distinct. I heard it’s much better than here. Weren’t you sad?)”
“(Um, not really. I like it better here.)”
“(That’s really unexpected. I actually thought you were a daughter of a noble family or something like that.)”
“(No, I’m just a commoner.)”
Amterin asked as she leaned her face against her lap as if she was starting to feel sleepy.
“(Hmm, then what about dating? I actually had a lot of questions for you. Have you been dating with many people?)”
“(If I were as pretty as you, I would probably seduce all men…!)”
“(Ami.)” Kuren interrupted Amaterin. Sometimes, when Amaterin got excited and spoke barbarically, Kuren would stop her, just like today.
“(Oh my. I can’t say anything. Sometimes Kuren is like my father.)”
The two say that they will love each other until death, but they still quarrel like this. A smile came out without me knowing.
Then Amaterin clung close to me, twinkling her eyes.
“(He must have been a nice guy, right? Hm? Hm?)”