On the Ship
Interlude — Aina and Emmerich’s Snow Country Hunting Life
Finally, I was to return to Aina-chan’s village.
I am extremely nervous.
I wrote to Ritz-kun and Aina-chan’s mother that I am alright, but I still was restless.
It seems that her grandfather lost his fangs, but even now I end up trembling just from thinking about that.
Aina-chan was receiving abuse. Because she was being pen pals with someone like me.
Her grandfather wanted to marry his granddaughter to someone he accepted. Then, I snatched her away. It might be natural that he gets angry.
However, I think hitting Aina-chan is too much.
The more I thought about that, the more I felt sorry for her, and the more I censured myself.
Ritz-kun said, “Bergholm family has a complicated situation and context, so don’t hastily rule someone as bad.”
Those were the only words that helped me.
When I meet him in person, I wish to introduce myself properly.
On the ship going to the village, I thought of such things.
Indeed. We were going back to Ritz-kun’s village.
We got a private room, and were spending the trip leisurely.
Aina-chan was spending the time sewing.
Since I couldn’t do anything, I stared at her work diligently.
Rossa approached me while meowing.
She rubbed against me, in a rare moment.
I wonder if she might be trying to cheer me up from my depression. What a kind cat. I’m touched.
When I lifted her and tried to hug her, she extended her legs and refused.
I got shocked.
At least she didn’t pull her claws out.
Aina-chan approached and said, “Rossa might be hungry.”
Ah, right. I see……
The cat food is in my bag. She was demanding me to prepare quickly.
As Rossa-san’s ‘Lifetime Feeder’, I put dried vegetables and fish on a plate.
I stared at Rossa as she chomped down on the food.
I told her to eat slowly.
While I was staring off absentmindedly, someone tapped my shoulder lightly.
“……Hey, is something wrong?”
Is Aina-chan worrying for me this time? She was staring at me like Rossa was.
“For some reason, your expression is grim from a while ago, you know?”
I’ll be energised if you rub against me! Of course I couldn’t say that, so I smiled cheerfully and told her that she’s imagining it.
What should I say. I’m scared of getting disliked by her, so I could not yet tell her my true feelings nor reach out for her.
I have no excuses to offer even if I am called an idiot.
However, she’s only 17.
……I’m 28. From her viewpoint, I am an old guy.
Really, I pondered many times if she really was alright with me.
Low confidence is an incurable disease of mine.
Furthermore, what worries me is whether I’ll be able to hunt well in the village.
I don’t know how to hunt, nor do I know etiquette.
Maybe I can find work at the fort?
No, that’s under the jurisdiction of the army so I can’t.
Could someone like me really be with such a cute girl. I felt sorry.
“Are you feeling unwell?”
While I was lost in thought, worrying, Aina-chan laid her hand on my forehead.
I flinched out of surprise.
“No, I’m well.”
“Then what is it? You’re acting weird from a while ago.”
“I’m uneasy about many things.”
I shouldn’t be saying such things, but when Aina-chan asked my thoughts came flooding out.
Could she have thought of me as an untrustworthy person?
She had her eyes wide open and stared at me.
“What are you uneasy about?”
“Living in the village, work, Aina-chan’s grandfather.”
“you were worried about such things?”
It seems like the things I had been agonising over were of no big deal to her.
I was surprised.
Aina-chan touched my hands which were on my lap.
The moment they touched, my heart skipped a bit.
When I looked at her face, she was smiling.
It was a serene expression that was consoling me.
“Don’t worry. It’s alright.”
Aina-chan spoke to me.
She told me to leave things regarding daily life to her.
Regarding interacting with other villagers, she too is not used to it, so she said that we should strive together.
About work, she told me that hunting is not everything.
Recently, there are merchants that buy handicrafts at high prices, so a normal life could be led if we tried hard.
There seems to quite a lot of work, such as at the port or at stores.
In winter, there are also people who go to the cities to earn money.
She told me that there’s not only one way.
“So, don’t act strangely.”
“Yes. Thank you, thank you.”
About hunting, Ritz-kun said that he’ll teach me.
I have no leisure to say that I am scared of bucking deers. To protect my life with Aina-chan, I have to do my best.
On her hand which was on one of my hands, I laid the other hand on top.
Then, I told her my true feelings.
“Though I am useless and cannot work enough for a man, but I can confidently say that I love Aina-chan the most in the world.”
What could this “Eh!?” mean?
If she didn’t hear clearly, I have to say it again.
It’s very embarrassing, but it’s important so I said it again.
“I love Aina-chan the most in the w——”
“I did hear that!”
Th-That scared me! So she did hear.
Then, what could that “Eh!?” possibly mean……
Maybe she’s turned off because I said something ‘in the world’?
I already said it, so there’s no helping it.
I decided tell it all the way through.
“So, then, if it’s alright, please marry me!”
I put my forehead to the floor and begged.
This is second proposal.
The first time was when we moved into the countryside and registered the marriage.
However, back then, it was for light confirmation, so shield ourselves from others, so she accepted the forceful proposal with understanding.
But this time, it’s different.
This will be the first and the last time I propose wholeheartedly.
I spent all my courage on today.
What if she refuses, I had not pondered such a thing.
Sometimes, I am frightened about how I get too positive in strange directions.
Now, I could only just wait for Aina-chan’s reply.
“……Ah, raise, your head.”
As she wished, I quickly raised my head and returned to normal.
Aina-chan’s face was bright red.
“Erm, about the answer, anytime you want,”
It’s fine after I become properly accepted into the village.
I just wanted to convey my feelings to her.
However, Aina-chan grabbed my coat hem to stop me.
Without meeting my gaze, she said one sentence.
“I-I am inexperienced, but please take care of me.”
The moment she said that, I felt as though steam would come out of my head.
To think she agreed to marriage!
While in disbelief, I quickly spoke up.
“Is it really okay!?”
“……There’s only you for me.”
Maybe because Aina-chan was embarrassed too, she quickly went away and turned her back on me.
Ah, even so, I am happy.
Any bit of restlessness that I had flew away in a snap.