I’m Not Even an Otome Game Mob Character - Chapter 16
November. Fall has ended and the signs of winter grow stronger. Recently, my main job has been to gather fallen leaves.
Even after hearing about Ojou’s engagement, not much has changed with us. She’s just been coming to me a little less often. It seemed that the Prince met her about twice a month. He was apparently required to meet several of his marriage candidates periodically while they were being scrutinized.
Both Ojou and the Prince were younger than me, but they were already thinking of marriage. I think they have it rough. But it looked like they got along and had fun meeting together, so that was good.
I don’t understand how nobles feel, getting married for political gain all the time. Even in Japan from my previous life and even now, downtown, marrying for love was the norm. Our senses of values were different, so I couldn’t meddle.
But sure enough, I want Ojou to marry someone she actually loves.
I couldn’t stop thinking that no matter what.
I was really surprised when I saw her cry. It wasn’t like when the pipsqueaks bawled. Even after listening to her and learning that those were tears of joy, I thought that I didn’t want her to cry.
A political marriage doesn’t seem fun. You’d be happier to marry someone you love rather than someone you don’t, wouldn’t you.
I want her to smile all the time.
I can’t do anything in particular, but I’ll support her so she can pick her own happiness.
I mean, that’s all I can do…
As I sweeped the fallen leaves with a broom, I gave a sigh. Even the leaves I’m gathering right now can become fertilizer and help trees grow, but I’m useless. It was pathetic.
“Really, you guys are amazing.”
I stared at the garden in envy. In autumn, the leaves of the deciduous trees changed colors, and there was grace in how they fell. The evergreen trees were imposing and reassuring. They helped people just by showing their greenery, so I respected them.
“Zac, who are you talking to…?”
When I turned around towards the voice, Ojou was looking at me suspiciously.
“You should at least say the birds or the spirits there…”
After hearing who my conversation partner was, Ojou donned a difficult expression. Birds aside, I can’t see spirits so there’s no way I can talk to them.
“So, what’s up?”
After seeing at Ojou hesitate to speak, I anticipated what she was about to say and smiled bitterly. It was nothing she had to be careful about with me.
“It was yesterday when the prince came, wasn’t it?”
“That’s right. He had a dark-red justaucorps and and a wonderful, composed outfit that was like Autumn, and…!”
(TN: Justaucorps[Pronounced juiced a cone without the n] is a knee-length, high-class coat that used to be worn in Europe. It’s what Gerald wore to the birthday party)
On a bit of stimulation, Ojou started talking with flushed cheeks, and I smiled. For some reason, Ojou seemed to think that it was improper to fawn on the handsome prince. She doesn’t say everything she thinks, even to her Mother, Oku-sama, or her maid Katherine. So I’m about the only one she can talk to about it. Half the feeling I get is that she’s boasting about her friend, and the other half is as if she’s an idol fan. Unlike the girls from my previous world, she wouldn’t suddenly scream in a high-pitched voice so my ears were treated well. I wonder why tense girls had such a deadly attack. It would suddenly echo in the classroom and surprise me.
In my previous world, my Little Sister apparently supported something different from what her friend did, so they had a war. Then that stimulated her interest on who my favorite character was, so she came to talk to me. I didn’t really understand why she called a simple quarrel a war. It was a disturbing way to say it.
Compared to my Little Sister’s crazed enthusiasm, something on the level of Ojou’s fangirling is cute. For whatever reason, whenever she decided to talk about the Prince, she would hesitate for a second. But after she started she seemed truly happy. It’s good to be able to say what you like.
“Under Roy-sama is her Highness… his Little Sister. She also has the same golden hair as Roy-sama, and apparently she’s very cute. When he started talking about his Little Sister, I spoke about Flora…”
I looked at Ojou as often as I could while I continued to sweep leaves. If he made Ojou seem this happy, the Prince must be a pretty great guy. To have good lucks and personality, what a flawless guy.
Ojou showed me a wonderful smile as she spoke about the Prince. I made her angry quite often, so that wasn’t something I could pull off.
“You’re really cute when you talk about the prince, Ojou.”
As I thought, it’s better for Ojou to laugh, I said earnestly. Suddenly, she stopped talking and reddened in the face.
“Ojou, what happened to you?”
“…What happened to you is my line! What are you saying so suddenly!?”
“Eh. Did I say something??”
I thought I was only back-channeling. Did my tongue slip or something somewhere? She was finally smiling, but I made her angry again. What a waste.
“I’m sorry, Ojou. I really will listen to you. Okay?”
“We’re fine for today.”
“If I said something strange, I’m sorry-”
Ojou turned the other way. I lowered my eyebrows and apologized. Again I was reminded that now was an important time, so I wanted to see Ojou smile and listen to her as much as I could. But even though I was being careful, why did I make her angry now of all times?
In the end, Ojou didn’t say anything more and went home.
Once I had finished gathering the leaves in my designated area, I put them into a hole near our cottage so they could be made into compost. Then I consulted Dad.
“Dad, in a while we’ll have to start asking Ojou to go back to the mansion if she comes here right?”
It’s been really cold lately. Snow falls near the royal capital, though not much. I can’t bring myself to let Ojou stand around to talk with me while it’s cold.
“Work there. Leaves will stop falling soon.”
“Thank you, Dad.”
He gave me permission to work in the greenhouse when Ojou came. Even though he couldn’t even give me errands for that place since there were some delicate flowers within. I know it’s also for her, but I’m genuinely happy to be able to do more work.
“Will you also let me do work in the cold room?”
“…In the future.”
I asked with hope, but he only took a glance at me before giving a blunt reply. I knew that I was probably gonna get refused, but it really is disappointing.
In the Ernst Household’s garden, beside the dome-shaped Conservatory was a pyramid-shaped cold room. The conservatory was for warm plants while the cold room was for cold plants. A mechanism that used magic stones was set up there, and two fat pipes that both came and went were linked up. It seemed to be structured so that the structures could get either hotter or colder depending on the need.
In the cold room, the sensation of your hands and your five senses grow dull so managing it is difficult. Forget running errands for it, if I’m to be fully entrusted with management then it would have to be after I’m acknowledged as an adult, otherwise I won’t.
I told Ojou that I’d become an adult quickly, but a gardener’s work is a steady accumulation of responsibilities, so something like skipping a grade is impossible. A specialist wouldn’t understand a house’s garden until several years after they’ve been transferred. Since I became a gardening apprentice early, I may or may not be early by a few years. Three years before the year Dad had me, he was 16 years old? No, more like 17. I wonder if I can make it in time…
Dad became an adult early because of his service. He himself is amazing, and I might be stuck helping him. I guess it’d be best if I were somehow entrusted with even one part.
After thinking that far, I reached the conclusion that in the end, there was nothing to do for now but my best. No matter how excited I got or how much I anticipated the future, right now I had no power so it’d be the same as a delusion.
“Dad, what should I do next?”
I finished my work and asked what we would do for the next half of the day. Dad looked at me in silence. He didn’t talk that much so if he defaulted to silence then he defaulted to silence, but even if he didn’t speak when I asked for instructions there would be some sort of reaction.
I thought it curious and waited for a reaction. Dad stretched out his large hand and grabbed my head. Then he ruffled my head.
After being more or less finished with patting my head, Dad started walking before me. We’re going to the next workplace so come, is what he means I guess. Even as I tilted my head at his actions before that, I followed.
A few days after, I had felt signs of snow the previous days and reported it to my Dad. In order to finish the work we needed to do before it fell, we came to the Ernst Household early in the morning.
Mornings in cold periods had quiet sounds and winds that kind of sobered me up, and I liked it. It refreshes my head. It was a time when I would wrap myself up in my futon in my previous world. That might have been a waste. Or maybe my lifestyle has changed so my perception has, too.
Flowers like Lobularias and Primulas were placed near Oku-sama’s room, but they’re weak to winter so we had to temporarily move them to the greenhouse. Did Dad put them in flower pots because he had considered things like this?
He brought the cart for carrying potted plants, and I heard the sound of grass being stepped on a little at a time. We should have repellents against animals. Was it a cat or a rabbit? Whichever it was, they would disturb the garden so we’d have to catch it and release it to a pet owner or the mountains.
When I looked towards the noise, I saw something I didn’t expect at all.
Ojou came jogging towards us with her hair down in a one-piece that looked like her pajamas. She had obviously just woken up.
“Idiot, you’ll catch a cold!”
She rushed up to me, and I interrupted her with a yell. Right away, I stopped her in front of me and put my winter coat on her. The sleeves were too long, but that might compensate for gloves.
“But Zac, you’re…”
“I’m going to work from now so it’s alright.”
I gave her a reason to consent, and she stopped resisting.
“So? Why did you come?”
I spoke like I was accusing her. Despite being a young girl, Ojou came outside in thin clothes at early morning. What was she thinking? This probably doesn’t slide even for a Lady.
“I woke up early… when I looked out my window, Zac was there, so…”
Since I was mad, she nervously lowered her eyes and said under her breath. But it was quite so I could hear her well.
I knelt and looked Ojou, who was looking down, in the eye. Her pale blue eyes were just a little wet.
“Because I was there, you say. You didn’t have to hurry here did you?”
“Today… I wasn’t able to meet you…”
I didn’t understand what she meant and tilted my head. Ojou had practice, and she had to spend time with her family, so of course there were days we couldn’t meet. In the first place we only met every few days.
“Afternoon, I should have had time… but, Mother called an acquaintance to the mansion and we had tea for my birthday… so.”
“Ojou, is it your birthday today?”
I picked up the tail end of her words and asked. She nodded slightly.
Crap, I haven’t prepared anything. What to do? She even looks like she’s gonna cry. But I mean, she can’t catch a cold.
After thinking in circles, I somehow fixed my priorities and sighed. When I did, Ojou thought that she was about to get scolded and flinched, which made me smile bitterly.
“…I mean, you can see me anytime can’t you?”
It’s because Ojou has noticed that “anytime” won’t last forever that she’s losing her cool, isn’t it. But she should prioritize herself, not me.
“Before, you were worried that I might catch a cold, weren’t you?”
She nodded softly.
“Then you also understand that I worry about you, right?”
After shutting her lips tight for a while, she nodded.
“…I won’t do it again.”
I smiled and rubbed Ojou’s head. Knowing that I wasn’t mad anymore, she smiled, full of relief. Seeing that, I myself was put at ease. I’m glad she’s smiling.
“I’ll send you off so will you go back before the maids wake up?”
I wanted to return her to the warm mansion before her body cooled, but that made her seem lonely. I didn’t want her to make that kind of face.
I want her to smile.
What to do, I pondered and looked to the sky for a while. The pale light that came from the white sun as it started to rise illuminated the whole garden. After seeing it, I thought of something.
I called Ojou as she was looking down dejectedly. She raised her head.
“This is your birthday gift!”
I gathered water magic onto my hand, made it into particles and scattered them into the air. Then they reacted with the sun’s light and made a small rainbow near us.
Ojou’s pale blue eyes widened as much as they could and looked up at the rainbow. Seven colors were reflected on her eyes, sparkling and pretty.
The thing she’s muttering about is probably different from what I’m thinking is pretty.
“Happy birthday, Ojou.”
I said with a smile. Ojou showed me a smile like the instant a flower blooms.
“Zac, thank you.”
I love Ojou’s smile.
As if I was able to see the instant a flower bloomed, I felt as if I had been given something. I wanted to give her something, but this was the other way around.
“Will you show me again, next year?”
“Yeah, of course.”
That was a cheap price to pay. I can make any amount of rainbows if Ojou will smile.
When I asked, are you going back, she replied, in a short while. For a while, we stared at the rainbow under the morning sun together.
What a cute chapter. If you notice sentences that go like that last one just now; e.g., putting dialogue in the paragraph and separating it with commas, they’re there because that’s how the raws are. I think it’s a bit charming. Thanks for reading!
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