( Erika POV )
TN: The author constantly switches between first and third person (annoyingly), but I’ll try to keep things first person, for consistency’s sake.
It was so sudden.
For some reason, the house had abruptly grown into a state of disarray, when I had asked what everyone was so worked up about, they told me that Harold had come over for a visit.
That wasn’t that unusual though, Harold had visited multiple times in the past to meet with Tasuku and Itsuki.
The real problem was that they weren’t here, Harold had come at a time that they weren’t present.
According to Kiryuu, an urgent matter had come up and that they had left to resolve it.
I, who had just been briefed on the situation with Harold, suddenly had a feeling well up that I couldn’t explain.
“Where is Harold-sama now?”
“He’s currently residing in the guest room.”
Once Kiryuu had left the room, I quickly got up on my feet and departed.
He had always avoided me, always given me the cold-shoulder, but I don’t care anymore. Not minding my steps, I strided directly over to Harold’s room with no hesitation at all, I had already overcome my weaknesses of past, I wasn’t afraid anymore.
Arriving at the entrance to the guest room, she sat down and called out from behind the sliding door.
“Please excuse my intrusion.”
Harold has always had a cold attitude towards me, so maybe I would be ignored, but just as Kiryuu said, ‘Acting impatiently will only get you subjected to more harsh words’.
Even so, I couldn’t back out now!
But to my surprise, Harold had acknowledged me, saying “Enter” in response.
I sat there, stunned for a moment at how smoothly everything was going, but since I had received permission, I opened the sliding door and entered.
“It’s been a long time, Harold-sama.”
I deeply bowed my head to him in greeting.
Harold sighed in response.
“Bastard, what are you plotting? Coming all the way here by yourself?”
Harold had convinced himself that he was hated by Erika, with how he had treated her so far, what else could he have thought?
‘Therefore there was no way Erika had come here of her own volition’, he had probably concluded.
‘Its nothing special, I just wanted to see you’, if I answered honestly without giving a proper reason, I’d just be kicked out, so taking a proper tone I replied,
“I’m not plotting anything. There’s no big reason behind why I decided to pay you a visit tonight.”
“Then what did you come here for?”
“Harold-sama, you’re my fiancé, a very important guest to the Sumeragi House. Since both the head of the family and his wife, my parents, are absent, I’ll be taking their place in greeting you tonight.”
“Unnecessary, wasting my time here with a bastard like you is annoying.”
His immediate response was negative, but I held on.
Our relationship as fiancés, the Sumeragi House’s current status, the results brought from Harold’s actions. There were innumerable reasons I could take advantage of.
“The Sumeragi Family would lose face if we didn’t treat our guests with respect, and they couldn’t make the time because your visit was so sudden, please understand.”
Seeing that I had no intentions of leaving, Harold didn’t press the subject any further. He knew that this was also partially his fault for arriving unannounced all of a sudden.
Acknowledging Harold’s silence as his response, I lighted a fire in the hearth, which was built into the room, and began heating an iron kettle.
Harold didn’t even look at me and remained silent. I on the other hand took in his profile as a whole, and felt that he wasn’t his usual self.
Although his creased eyebrows and cold expression hadn’t changed, the pressure he usually gave off to intimidate those around him had died down. It was barely there.
The facade that he put up to show that he didn’t have any weaknesses had faltered to the extent that even I noticed it.
If another person looked at Harold right now, they would think that he was exactly the same as he usually was.
But I was different. I saw him that time.
Harold, who was always so blunt and brutal in every aspect of his being… was crying. That arrogant behaviour of his was made to conceal his weaknesses. He always tried to bear everything alone, so he had too.
Which is exactly why I had to support him.
I placed the tea leaves in the boiled water, poured it into a cup and placed it in front of Harold.
But Harold didn’t move to take it, or the snacks that I put out with the tea, he just sat there, silently. Eventually the tea had grown cold, and as I reached my hand out to replace it, Harold spoke,
“…Hey, bastard. How are things going in your life right now?”
Harold murmured, almost as if he were talking to himself.
He still wasn’t looking at me, but I knew the question wasn’t for himself.
It was very un-Harold-like question, he usually doesn’t take interest in others, at least on the surface.
Maybe the question really was for himself, rather than me. Maybe he felt he was being cornered with how forward I was being today and he needed to reassure himself. How troubling…
“I’m really happy with my current environment, and if you’re asking me if I have any dissatisfactions right now, then I have nothing to say as the Sumeragi House’s only daughter.”
Hopefully, this reply will comfort him a little.
I don’t know why, but it’s clear that he’s worried about something right now. Maybe if I could figure out what it was, and sympathize with him, I’d be able to offer him a little bit of salvation.
I didn’t like seeing Harold like this, he was supposed to be a person who walked proudly, being depressed didn’t suit him.
I know that this was a selfish image that I’ve pressed on him, but I can’t deny how I feel.
Unfortunately, I knew the truth, it was something I realized in the very depths of my soul. Even if I was good to him here, I could never be the true support that Harold needed.
That’s why it’s fine if my feelings are forsaken. Harold can only be Harold if he stands with his own power, any kindness I give him would only be an unnecessary annoyance.
“You’re lying, those couldn’t possibly be the feelings of a person who had been forced into an engagement with a partner that they didn’t want.”
‘That’s not true! I was more than grateful for being engaged with you as the Sumeragi House’s daughter!’ Though there was no way I could say this out loud.
Harold’s eyes were cold, he really didn’t seem to believe my words at all.
“I am the daughter of the Sumeragi House, born and raised by loving family and attendants, I am willing to do anything to repay the kindness that they have given me since long ago.”
This was both a lie and the truth, even if Harold had turned out to be the worst kind of human being, if all it took to save my family was my hand in marriage, then I would gladly sacrifice myself.
But Harold had completely crushed my resolve for the better, ironically planning to dissolve our engagement of his own volition.
“Harold-sama, do you really dislike the thought of being engaged to me that much? I’m not so insensitive that I don’t realize that I’m hated by you.”
Taken back by my resolute response, Harold murmured in an almost inaudible voice.
“…why? Why would you accept such a hard reality?”
It’s because I met with you.
I wanted to say those words so badly. I was inexorably attracted to your way of life, where you wouldn’t hesitate in the slightest to protect others even if it would bring you pain. Fascinated by your strong beliefs, I had fallen in love with you before I even noticed.
Looking at Harold’s figure who had just uttered such words, I wanted to tell him so bad. I wanted to ask him to look at me as a member of the opposite sex, as another person.
I could feel my feelings of longing and affection welling up inside, but I desperately tried to suppress it.
…I couldn’t do it. The moment I did, I would only bring more things for Harold to worry about, and he’s already suffered so much.
It took a while, but after clearing my throat with a cough, order had come back to my mind once again.
“…it’s because Harold-sama’s power is great. It wouldn’t be a lie if I said I was envious of it.”
Once the words had come out of my mouth, Harold’s face froze, completely stunned, it was a face that he would never show normally, but was soon replaced by his usual expression.
He let out a sigh, “…so now you’re trying to buy my favour through flattery?”
“These are my honest feelings. Harold-sama, you’re an individual who cuts open a path created by your own power, anyone would envy that strength of yours.”
He doesn’t just face his problems with brute strength and force either, he has a broad perspective that allows him to see the full picture in any situation, a calm mind that can predict events as if he’s seen the future, and the genius that allows him to produce medicine to cure the miasma and develop revolutionary farming methods.
These are all extraordinary characteristics, and thinking about how amazing he was made me recall my father’s words,
‘He’s talented, but he’s a little too talented, that genius of his will force him into isolation one day.’
And that’s why I worked so hard, I did my best to become a presence that can support him so that he wouldn’t be alone.
…but only someone as amazing as Harold will be able to walk by his side, so my efforts were useless after all. Looking at Harold as he is now is a keen reminder of that.
“However, there’s only so much that one person can do.”
“Just because you can do something alone, doesn’t mean that you should. Harold-sama, you should try relying on others a bit more.”
Harold has the ability to do many things, even if he’s working alone, so there’s no need to rely on others, right? But maybe this was only because there was nobody he could rely on.
But by straining himself all the time, no matter how strong he is, isn’t that a quick path to death? A sudden feeling of anxiety started welling up in my chest.
“Don’t speak as if you know me.”
“Certainly, I may not know much about you, Harold-sama, but aren’t you the same?”
“Harold-sama, don’t you know that there are many people who would spare nothing to help you?”
Harold had gotten used to being alone. He was alone for so long that it became a belief of his that he had to be alone.
Maybe it’s because he was raised in such an environment that he has such a hard time trusting others.
I can hardly imagine how painful living in that environment must have been for him, it frightens me.
But it’s different now, he has allies. Both Father and Itsuki are prime examples of that.
My family already considers Harold as one of our own, Harold can believe in us, we’re here for him.
“I don’t care if it’s only once, but please try looking at your surroundings sometime, and I mean really look.”
Because that way you’ll surely find an existence you can trust.
Though, I couldn’t help but feel a small pain in my chest at that moment, because I knew that that existence couldn’t be me.
I left soon after.
* * *
‘There’s only so much that one person can do…’
Erika’s words echoed in my head.
That argument wasn’t justified at all, I was aware at how much higher the specs of my body were compared to my mind.
The only reason why I was able to do all these amazing things was because of the dirty cheat I had called ‘Original Knowledge’.
On the other hand, Original Knowledge was just as much of a bane as it was a boon. The game scenario he once knew, was now equivalent to predicting the future of this world.
Although I was limited to only knowing the normal ending, I could still make tremendous impacts on this world depending on my actions, and with every change, I increase the risk of being targeted by powerful forces.
So as to not reveal that I have knowledge of the future, I’ve done my best to ensure that I’ve done everything alone until now.
But Erika says that I have a limit, that eventually, I’ll run into a problem that I won’t be able to fix by myself.
I fell onto my back in thought.
It’s not like I never relied on others, in the instances regarding Clara and Collette’s rescue and the development of LP farming, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of Norman and Tasuku.
That said, it’s not like I had full confidence in them either.
I didn’t avoid others just because I risked exposure of having Original Knowledge, there’s also the chance that I’ll act in a way that deviates too much from the future that I know, and then my strongest asset would be rendered useless.
I’m scared of a future I don’t know.
But is it like that now?
Looking back at my actions, I’ve already changed so many things. Clara had survived, LP farming methods were developed, the Sumeragi house had developed medicine for the miasma, and I’ve joined the knights three years earlier than I was supposed too.
Though most of them had to be done to avoid raising death flags.
But this time is different, Robinson has no direct influence on my death in the future, but should I really let him die just to avoid deviating from the original work?
They were conscripted in this battle against the Star Aria Tribe, a battle that they would die in, and they didn’t even have a choice.
I rushed over here so I could consult with Tasuku about this situation, but could this be the answer? After I was admonished by Erika, my mind felt clear for some reason.
It’s impossible to avoid all the flags alone, the magnitude of this whole situation, couldn’t be controlled by me alone.
The intervention of others might not follow the original story, but it might be another solution.
Maybe defeating Justus will resolve the whole situation and allow the original story to reorganize itself, that’s another way to look at it.
Isn’t this stupid? The more I deviate from the original work, the greater my disadvantage becomes.
But that can’t be helped, this world is already deviating from the original.
The biggest problem is that Justus’ plan is advancing ahead of schedule, there’s a risk that Ryner’s growth won’t be able to keep up.
I’ll have to apologize if I end up dying in the battle against the Star Aria tribe by accident.
…if that’s how it’s going to be then, Robinson’s survival, Delaying Justus’ plan, Strengthening Ryner, let’s do it all!
If I fail, I’ll die, but it’s too late to worry about such things now! I’ve always been exposed to death flags from the moment that I had awoken in Harold’s body.
Although this world will deviate from the original, there’s always a chance that I’ll be able to clear this game significantly.
Thinking about it, I might’ve been a bit paranoid about avoiding the risks, after all, it would be impossible for the trainee Harold to obtain the best results without taking risks.
Because I’m trying to overturn my fate of death, it’s only natural that I should be willing to risk my life if I want to save it and grasp the survival route.
It was a refreshing way to look at things. If you can’t do something yourself, borrow the power of others, it’s that simple.
I won’t hesitate to ask for help when I need it now.
It’s as if I had just reached enlightenment, and it’s all thanks to Erika.
“There’s only so much that one person can do.”
“Harold-sama, you should try relying on others a bit more.”
“Harold-sama, don’t you know that there are many people who would spare nothing to help you?”
I think I was the only one of the two of us that thought she hated me. She really is, a dependable, beautiful girl. It’s no wonder she was such a popular character in the original game.
I might’ve made a mistake when I tried to get her to hate me.
As I thought about such things, unbeknownst to me, a wry smile had formed on my face.
Translated by KuroInfinity.