Chapter 18 – I tried gathering three childhood friends

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It’s my second morning in the past.

I just finished my sword training, which for some reason was supervised by Labrys.

“…”

Even as I leave the backyard, Labrys is still sneakily following me.

(W-what is she trying to do…?)

I try to not pay too much attention to it as I take off my sweaty training clothes and bathe with water from the well.

About cleaning my body with time magic… I can’t do that.

It’s not like I can’t rewind my body’s time, but that would erase my training too.

At times like these, it’s better to just clean myself normally with water.

“…! …!?”

“Hn?”

I turn around, and see pink twintails swiftly hiding.

But I can still see a bright red ear.

And then, I see her take a peek at me.
That shows me her face, which is red for some reason.

(Don’t you get tired of looking at me…?)

I have no idea what she wants in the first place.

I knew her behavior changed compared to the first time, but I’m starting to think it changed too much.

(I-I don’t get it.
I have no idea what she’s thinking.)

I want us to see eye to eye this time, but…

This is just too complicated.
I just don’t get it.

(Should I just talk to her?)

At this rate, I’m just going to stay nervous too.

And so, I get changed, and pretend to go to the backyard… But I turn a corner, and wait for her instead of continuing to walk forward.

Not long after, I hear footsteps drawing near.

“Kyah!?”

Got her.

I grab her arm so she doesn’t run away, and corner her against a wall.

“Hum, Labrys? You’ve been peeking at me for a while.
What are you doing?”

“…”

She turns away.

(Does she still not like me…?)

We promised to be friends after yesterday’s mock battle, but…

It’s still awkward.
I definitely can’t say we’ve made up yet.

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I get the feeling she’s a bit frightened too, but that’s probably just because I caught her all of a sudden.

(This isn’t good…)

I want to get along with Labrys this time, so…

“It’s all right, Labrys.”

I smile to try to reassure her.

“I won’t turn against you even if for some reason you’ve developed an urge to peep on people…”

“T-that’s not it!”

She gets mad, and her face turns bright red.

“I-I came here to do sword training!”

“Eh? But you’re not carrying a sword, are you?”

“W-well…”

“Is there actually something you want to say to me?”

“…Uu…”

Labrys shrinks her shoulders, and stammers a response.

“C-Chrom, yesterday…”

She stops.

“Yesterday…?”

Now I remember.

Even I’m not that thickheaded.

“I see… The birthday present?”

“Eh?”

“Miss Reina told me about it.
You got me a birthday present.”

“…”

She looks at me blankly for a moment.

“W-well… That too, but…”

“That too?”

“Eh, ah, no… That’s all.”

What a strange response.

“But I really didn’t expect that from you.”

“…W-we’re friends, aren’t we?”

“Eh?”

“…I promised.
I said we’d be friends if I lost that mock battle, so it can’t be helped…”

“Ah…”

We did make that agreement.
It would be very difficult for us to just suddenly become friends again like we were before, but I see she is making an effort to compromise.

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She’s still the same old Labrys.

“…Hn.”

And then, she takes out a small package from her bag.

“…Hnn.”

I guess she wants me to take it.

“What is this?”

I open it, and see cookies.

Their shape is kind of weird, and they’re a little burned in the edges.

“Did you…”

“…They’re not handmade or anything.”

“Eh? I didn’t even say…”

“…Their shape is bad because I figured something cheap like this is good enough for someone like you.
If I actually made them they would have come out a lot better.
So don’t misunderstand.”

“Y-yes, sorry.”

She’s talking really fast all of a sudden, and it sounds like she’s upset.

“Still… Thank you.
I’m really happy.”

I place my hand on her head.

“…!? …!?”

But I’m more happy about getting one step closer to her than the present itself.

Something like this would’ve never happened the first time around.

“~~!? ~~!?”

The first time around, we never made up, and in the end, we had to fight to the death.

But it looks like it will be different this time.

“……!?”

It’s still just one small step, but it’s a giant leap for us.

If we keep piling on these small steps, one day we’ll get along again.

It’s with this resolution in my heart that…

“…Fukyuu.”

…I hear a strange noise, like air is being let out of something.

Apparently it came from Labrys’ mouth.

“Ah…”

That’s right, I’m still patting her head.

Her eyes are closed tightly, she’s shaking, and her face is bright red.

(D-did I upset her?)

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I quickly pull my hand back.

“……? ……?”

She tilts her neck slightly and looks up at me.
Her kind of confused face makes me believe she’s asking ‘what’s wrong’ or ‘why did you stop’.

(Does she actually not dislike it?)

I try patting her head again.

(…)

She closes her eyes again, and shakes again.

(W-what emotion is this reaction supposed to express…?)

I don’t get it.
I don’t get how my childhood friend feels.

I can use this head to solve all sorts of difficult academic problems related to magic, but this problem seems like it’s too much for me.

“…….”

When I try to pull my hand back, she, probably involuntarily, moves her head up and rubs against my hand.

This action is adorable.
Like what a little bunny who wants to be spoiled would do… But at this rate this is never going to end.

This time I really pull my hand back.

“…Ah…”

Labrys sounds a little sad about it.

“Ah!”

She glares at me, like she’s trying to hide it anyway she can.

“H-hmph… S-someone as lowly as you… Try not to touch me so casually.”

“Eh? After all that?”

I was patting her head for quite a while.

But does that mean she actually didn’t like it? She looks pretty upset.

(…I-I don’t get it.
I have no idea how she feels.)

Are we really going to end up not seeing eye to eye?

I’m kind of at my wit’s end.

“…Stare~~.”

I notice another gaze beside Labrys’.

I look over there, and see El’s face peeking from the edge of a wall.

“…E-El!? When did you…!?”

Labrys jumps back.

“A-are you two… You two…”

“Eh… N-no…”

Labrys looks panicked for some reason.

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“You’re really friends again!”

El’s smile is as bright as the sun.

“Hehehe.
Now we can all play together again.”

“Eh…? Ah… I guess.”

Labrys looks kind of underwhelmed.

“That’s great, Laby.
You’ve been saying you wanted to make up with Chrom all this time.”

“I-I never…!”

“…? But you’re always talking about him and…”

“I’m not!”

Labrys’ tone sounds a bit childish now.

I’ve never seen her so shaken… Actually, I did see something like this yesterday.

“But it feels like we’re back to when we were younger, when the three of us are together like this.”

I whisper without thinking.

Back when we were just innocent kids, we used to play together all the time.

Those are precious memories to me.
I keep playing them back in my mind, to make sure I never forget them.

“Yes.
It’s been a while since the three of us were gathered in the same place like this.”

El nods, and claps her hands.

“Oh, that’s right.
My father isn’t here today, so you’re taking a break from training too, right Laby? We have to go somewhere to celebrate being reunited!”

“Eh?”

“Ah, sorry… I have to go patrol around town.”

Mister Sirius entrusted that job to me.

It’s a peaceful town, but after that disturbance yesterday, I want to check it out.

“Then how about we all do it together?”

“Yes, that’d be fine.”

“Then let’s go!”

“W-wait.
I never said I would…”

“Don’t you want to?”

I look at Labrys.

“…I-it’s not that…”

She mumbles her response as she looks away.

“Then it’s settled!”

“Yes.”

And so, it’s decided that the three of us are going to patrol around town.

 

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