Emmerich and the Fickle Kittens — Middle Part
It takes about six hours by carriage to reach the village where my uncle is. It’s a rather long trip.
I sent the luggage ahead before us.
The only things we had on hand were small bags with our meals, in addition to a basket holding our new family, Rosa the cat.
It was time to get on the carriage. I confirmed the destination with the driver and got on.
Outside the window, steam vehicles passed by. Recently, it seems like there are more and more of them.
The roads for carriages were getting scarcer.
While witnessing such change of the times, I left behind the city I grew up in.
The carriages were full.
Somehow, we managed to secure seats on the last carriage. Aina-chan sat in the corner while I sat next to her.
The men inside the carriage stole glances at Aina-chan.
The unblemished silver hair and the clear blue eyes were rare after all. Stop staring, I wanted to shout.
However, she did not mind the cheeky gazes, focusing only on the kitten peeking out from the basket.
In a town on the way, we stopped for about half an hour.
There was a park nearby so we decided to have lunch there.
I then realised that there were no blankets to sit on so laid out my coat for her to sit on.
“Why do I have to sit on something like your clothes.”
“But otherwise, your skirt will get dirty.”
When I persistently offered it, Aina-chan narrowed her eyes as if to glare at me and sat down.
Rossa, in the basket, was on her lap. The kitten was getting fed the fish that was brought for lunch.
“……Lunch, you can have them.”
Because Aina-chan had not touched her food, I was waiting like an obedient dog.
Since I got permission from the owner, I opened the lunchbox.
Sandwich with meat and vegetables, skewered meatballs, grilled sausages and soft egg rolls. Meat fried with spices in wrapped in cheese and vegetables. Braised root vegetables with thinly sliced ham decorating the lunchbox like flowers.
The lunchbox was all filled with things I like.
Even though I said thanks, she rejected it saying that she merely made it from leftover ingredients.
Still, I felt happy.
I placed enough food for Aina-chan on a dish and then started eating.
They were all great. It tasted even better since we ate together.
An hour later. The carriage left as was scheduled.
We arrived at the village we are moving to eight hours later.
There were places with deep snow on our way so the ride was slightly delayed.
I visited the village my uncle lives in when I was young. It felt somewhat similar to Ritz-kun’s village. It would be nice if she liked it, I thought.
It was a small countryside village.
It had even fewer people than the village Aina-chan was living in.
Since it was such a place, one had to be careful about one’s reputation.
It would be impossible for an unrelated man and woman to live under one roof like we could in the city.
Therefore, I carefully discussed it with her and filled out the marriage registration forms to the country.
Of course, under the condition that the relation would be broken if Aina-chan came to dislike it.
I am planning on returning her to her country eventually.
I am only taking custody of her until the wrath of her family dies down.
I don’t know what will happen afterwards.
It might be nice to move to Ritz-kun’s village, but if Aina-chan does not want it I have no choice but to live here.
Well, the military did not fit with my nature, so it might not be so bad spending time leisurely here.
Uncle and aunt welcomed me, whom they were seeing after a decade and a few years, as well as Aina-chan.
They asked if we wanted a sheep or a goat for a marriage gift, but to be honest I didn’t know the difference so I chose randomly.
The new house was kept neat by my aunt.
It was much more spacious than the apartment we lived in. Bedroom, private room, living room, kitchen, toilet, bathroom.
While I was checking the rooms, I realised something important.
— What should I do? There’s only one bedroom!!
It was a natural thing since we were moving in as a married couple.
“A-Aina-chan, you can use this place.”
“I’ll sleeping on the chair in my room.”
“As if that could relieve your fatigue!?”
I think we had a similar conversation before.
But really, there won’t be any problems.
When I served in the military, I slept on the floor with only newspapers for blankets.
When I told her that, she told me to do whatever I wanted.
Aunt prepared many things dinner, so the two of us received those.
The next day, we organised the luggage.
We also went out shopping to the village shopping district.
Aina-chan was not used to this place. Maybe because of that, she was hiding behind me and clinging to my coat sleeve. Very adorable.
After returning home, we resumed unpacking our luggage.
There were two cups.
“Drink this after two hours! Because I won’t brewing anymore! After two hours, even if there’s dust, just drink it anyway! Endure it!” was what I was expecting, but the second cup was Aina-chan’s. I felt relieved inside.
When I brought a cushion over from the couch and offered a seat for her, Aina-chan sat down without saying anything.
We sat in between the luggage and ate the fruit cakes we bought from the store before.
In the pocket near the belly on her apron, there was Rossa the cat. I felt envious that the cat was in a good position.
Noticing my gaze, Aina-chan explained why while caressing Rossa with a benign expression.
“This child, it gets sad if we leave it alone.”
I wanted to say that I also become if I’m neglected, but I was afraid of hearing, “Oh, really,” so I kept silent.
The cake we bought from the store was dry and crumbling, causing one to become thirsty.
The cake Aina-chan makes are moist and delicious.
When I said that, she scolded me, saying that she can’t make them because she did not have the ingredients.
It seems that I was rushing her.
“Still, eating cake with Aina-chan is still very pleasurable.”
The words I blurted out were cleanly ignored.
Maybe she couldn’t hear them because I said it quickly in a soft voice.
What should I say, it might be the first time spending time leisurely with the two of us.
When we were in the city, every day was hectic.
Even on holidays, I slept in from exhaustion. I feel really sorry for that.
It would have been nice to take her out more for sightseeing, but it was too late for regrets.
Even in such a life, Aina-chan never said a word of complaint.
Rather, she supported me through the meals and packed lunches.
I realised that I never properly thanked her. It might have been too late, but I lowered my head regardless.
Aina-chan was stupefied for a moment. After that, she asked, what happened?
Even when she asked that, I couldn’t answer for some reason. I could only murmur words of gratitude.
Aina-chan calmly stared at me.
She had a quizzical glance.
Really, how should I convince her that I’m not a suspicious person.
The only way may be to come out honestly with my feelings.
In the end, I decided to tell her the feelings I had for a long time.
“I, love you, Aina-chan.”
Aina-chan’s big eyes opened even wider.
I felt both regret and relief from saying it, that I got a very ambivalent feeling.
There weren’t any reactions for a while, so I cautiously took a peek at Aina-chan’s face.
She quickly turned away.
Aina-chan was blushing deep red.
“Aina, you don’t like me?”
When I recklessly asked, she lowered her head.
However, a little while later, she shook her head.
“—Then, do you like me?”
There weren’t many opportunities like this, so I asked.
Aina-chan blushed even redder.
“Ah, sorry, erm,”
She was getting teary eyed.
I wasn’t planning on making her cry.
I might be forgiven if I touch the floor with my forehead in repentance.
I kneeled and then bowed down.
“Erm, I’m really sorr-”
My words of apology overlapped with Aina-chan calling Rossa.
Rossa leaped out of the apron’s front pocket.
Because she stood up suddenly, reaching out for the kitten, she lost her balance.
Of course, I was able to catch her.
Rather, shouldn’t I be the one saying thanks? I almost blurted that out carelessly.
I was reluctant to part but I helped her up.
Aina-chan had a nice scent, and her body was very soft.
It was so splendid that I felt that I could imagine things for a few months after this.
Because I felt that I wasn’t suppressing my vicious thoughts well enough, I hid my mouth with my hand to not get caught.
Though I might have given it away through the gaze.