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Violet Evergarden – Chapter 12

readviolet~October 26, 2017 /Uncategorized

Violet Evergaden: Chapter 12

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The Flying Letters and the Auto-Memories Doll (Part 2)

In cities, villages and even forests, those touched by the winds laughed at its greatness. The raging gale’s sounds were a melody of rattlings. With the grace of the Sun, limpid blue skies blessed the people below.

On that day, the wind had suddenly become strong from afternoon to evening. The vigorous airstream was almost as a dragon undulating its body and trampling down the earth. Wherever the gust dragon passed by, the sounds of leaves and cries of birds and insects chorused. The site of Leidenschaftlich’s army’s Air Force base, surrounded by woods, became the wind’s playground as well.

Heaps of guests who had just arrived exited a passenger truck that had been going on repeated trips over and over for the sake of the special day. As its interior became empty, it once again returned to the city. The people who had descended from it crossed the forest road while chatting cheerfully amongst one another. As they walked through the tree path, their roars and joyful voices rose at the profound, swiveling sound of fighter aircrafts dancing in the sky.

 

The 7th Aeronautical Exhibition was taking place.

In that midst, the figures of members of the CH Postal Service led by Claudia Hodgins were also present. From clerks who had been working in the office to postmen who were done with their deliveries, they all walked with faces enveloped in a feeling of liberation.

“Brighten up, Little Lux.”

While everyone else seemed to be having fun, Lux alone had a sour expression. The president, who was now over thirty years old, desperately attempted to talk to her in order to make her smile.

While thinking that she was being a child herself, Lux spit out the incomprehensible feelings in her heart, “No, it’s not like I’m in a bad mood. I… Something I couldn’t do anything about no matter what… was solved with a single statement of yours, President… I’ve once again come to understand how things work in this world; I’m merely climbing up the stairs of adulthood… This world is so…”

“Was it so bad to have the public office extend the deadline? But, look. Thanks to that, we were able to bring everyone from the company to the festival. I… had also wanted to do something for everyone, since they did their best at work because they had wanted to come here…”

“But that receptionist from the public office was your ex, right, President Hodgins?”

“Aah… well, was she?” He answered vaguely, as she actually not someone who could be counted as a lover, for the two of them merely happened to know each other’s naked bodies.

“In short, you have a relationship of sympathy, in which you normally overlook one another… that’s why, if I had been the one to ask the favor, it would have been useless… that’s why…”

Hodgins had been observing Lux, who was making several different comic faces, with worry at first, but it gradually turned into amusement and he wound up laughing. The childishness of that girl, who was still alienated to the subtleties of human relations despite having become able to do quite a lot of work, and therefore remained too innocent, was adorable.

“Little Lux. Getting frustrated over something like this is no good. You’re my secretary, so you’ll have to keep steadily learning my dirty ways from now on. The president’s statements are…?”

“A-Absolute.”

What was he trying to make her learn?

“You’re lacking energy. One more time. The president’s statements are…?”

“A-Absolute!”

Hodgins patted Lux’s head in satisfaction. “Little Lux is so cute. I’ll raise you into a great member of society.”

As he continued caressing her in the manner one would do with a dog or a cat, his hand was caught by other employees.

“President, you’ll be arrested for that. By the military police.”

“Lux, too, shouldn’t follow what the President says. You’re the company’s star of hope, so you must fight back against anything inappropriate as if you intended to stab the President.”

“Aren’t you all terrible?”

The clerks laughed, and Lux naturally ended up laughing as well. Upon looking at them, Hodgins was finally relieved. He was no good with women making gloomy expressions.

——Now, on to the other girl that I’m worried about.

After entrusting some warrant money from his own wallet for Lux to buy everyone something they wanted, Hodgins left to look for Violet and Cattleya. Someone had said that he would find them if he went on walking, but the number of guests attending the Flying Letters was the double of the previous time and breaking a record. The base of the Air Force itself was extensive, so he believed it would be a difficult task.

——I had tried to instigate them to get along with each other, but I wonder if I managed it.

Unlike Violet and Lux, those two were a pair with a questionable success rate for promoting the growth of a friendship. However, as Hodgins had Gilbert and himself as an example of success, he wanted to bet that the two of them could surprisingly become friends. He was out of touch with Gilbert at the moment, but tried not to think about it.

Without walking aimlessly, Hodgins headed straight to the general resting place. Several hours had passed ever since Cattleya had left the office. They must have had a good time seeing most of the displays and booths.

He realized that being tall was useful in that kind of situation. It did not take too long for him to find Cattleya. There was no way that such a strikingly beautiful woman, who could even be considered pompous, would not stand out.

Cattleya was sitting alone on a bench, looking lonely.

“So I failed?”

As he attempted to call out to her with a “heey”, another man came to talk to Cattleya first. He held onto her arm as she intentionally ignored him, in order to forcefully make her stand up. He was probably inviting her to walk around the festival with him.

“This is bad…”

Hodgins was not worried about Cattleya. He walked fast, pushing his way through the crowd.

“Don’t touch me in such a familiar manner!”

As he heard the shout of a high-pitched voice, he shoved people without holding back. However, Hodgins was one step too late for the rescue. Cattleya had steadily stood up and reversed the arm that had been gripped, quickly freeing herself, then grabbed the man by the chest area of his clothes and dove her knee into his crotch. It was most certainly an unimaginable pain. The man lay on the ground without moving.

As Cattleya intended to send more blows, Hodgins stopped her by calling out, “Cattleya, come here!”

“Ah, President!” Seemingly happy, she waved at him and ran in his direction.

Letting out a skeptical chuckle, Hodgins waved back.

Cattleya jumped into his chest. Although the stares from the surrounding people were hurtful, he prioritized Cattleya’s mental state. He embraced her gently once, then stepped back, receiving a full-fledged smile as he asked if she was all right.

“Guess I didn’t make it in time…”

“President, were you trying to help me out? I don’t lose. But, I see… if I act feebly in these kinds of situations, you will try to save me. I should have left it as that for a few more seconds.”

“No, hum. That’s right.” He did not admit that the one he was trying to save was the man. “But, y’know, Cattleya… I’m sure I told you that you should try to resolve things peacefully at times like this…”

“I didn’t use my fists. I thought a former martial artist like me shouldn’t do that with an ordinary person, so I used my legs. Because my legs aren’t that strong. Praise me, praise me, President.”

The young woman named Cattleya Baudelaire was of a glossy beauty that seemed like she could have plenty of men on the palm of her hand with just a glance, but on the inside, she was like a puppy. She was innocent and naïve, as well as vicious, since there were no bad intentions in whatever she did. Perhaps because she had confidence in her physical strength, she had the habit to solve anything by force.

“It’s great that you didn’t let yourself get caught up by some strange man, but excessive self-defense is no good, so points off. Let’s leave this spot. People are looking.”

“Praise meee… ah, hum… but…”

By crawling onto the ground, the man who had collapsed escaped while the two were talking.

After sparing a glimpse at his state, Cattleya turned back to Hodgins. “I have to stay here. Violet ran off somewhere. But she said she’d come back to this place. If I leave, we’ll end up missing each other.”

“‘Ran off somewhere’… meaning you don’t know where to?”

“Yeah. I think she probably… went to chase after that person she calls ‘Major’.”

Hodgins lost his voice at Cattleya’s words. His face astonished, he grabbed her shoulders with uneasy and trembling hands. “A black-haired man in a military uniform!?” It was rare of him to speak so loudly.

Perhaps his unrest was transmitted to Cattleya, and she began to shake as well. “I-I don’t know. I didn’t see him. But Violet said he was her user in the past.”

“Which way did she go!?”

Pinned down by such a threatening attitude, Cattleya pointed towards the crowd, her finger oscillating feebly. “T-That way… but, it’s been a while since she left.”

“I’ll go after her. I’m bringing her back. Sorry, Cattleya, but everyone from the company is heading to the Flying Letters’ retrieval place, so go meet with them there.”

“E-Eeh, I’ll be on my own again?”

“You’re a good girl so go there! Okay?! And no reckless quarreling even if someone picks on you!”

“President!” Cattleya was about to chase after Hodgins as if to hang onto him, but gave up halfway. She was somewhat exhausted.

She wound up sighing as she had watched someone’s back while they broke into run for the second time that day. There was no helping it since she could not oppose Hodgins, who looked after Violet as something like a substitute parent, and so, Cattleya started walking totteringly. While thinking it would be great if she became someone whom others would go after as well, she was lonely once again.

——Is today a good or a bad day? I wonder which. She thought.

She added the fact that she had become able to talk with Violet a little to the score. The fact that the latter had left Cattleya earned a subtraction. She soon would join the people from the agency and not be lonely anymore. One more score. However, Hodgins putting Violet before her earned a subtraction. Comprehensively, after evaluating the ups and downs of her feelings, she could say that her current situation was of having a bad day.

The reason why she disliked being alone was because it made her feel as if she had no charm. People naturally gathered around charismatic individuals. Hodgins was one of them. Cattleya had also been attracted to him as a butterfly would be to honey. Yet she understood that she could not become like him.

She chewed her lips lightly. Her heart was withering. It was supposed to be an extremely wonderful beginning of month, and the part of her that had been looking forward to it since the previous one was awfully depressed.

“Hey, stupid woman. You alone?”

It was depressed, and yet…

“Benedict…”

…her tears went right back in at the ironic sentence as she was called from behind.

Meanwhile, Violet Evergarden, the center of that whirlpool, was facing a man as if confronting him. Away from the crowd, the two of them stood under the shadow of the plum trees that surrounded the maneuver area, seeming almost like a couple. It was not as if they were completely unnoticeable as seen from the venue, so from a distance, they probably looked as though having a secret date.

“It has been a while.”

Black hair. Green orbs. The man glared at Violet with said green orbs as if annoyed. While it had appeared as if she would lose him in the flow of people many times, from the moment she was finally able to grab his arm and stop him, he had seemed sullen.

“Please wait.”

Roughly yanking the arm that Violet had grasped, the man turned around. Perhaps because her grown-up figure was too different from the last time he had seen her, the man’s reaction was slightly delayed.

As he realized who the other was, he unabashedly clicked his tongue and shoved her away by the shoulder. “Don’t touch me.”

He was very similar to the man Violet had recalled, but still different. He eyed her with disgust as she did not budge a single inch even after being thrust away, her torso accepting the impact. He was unlike Edward Jones, whom she had met in the past, but still keenly similar in the fact that he exposed Violet’s past.

“You might not remember me, but…”

“I do. There’s no way I’d forget the killer weapon that massacred my comrades.”

Gilbert’s older brother, Dietfriet Bougainvillea, stood there.

Violet blinked slowly once at the words that pierced straight through her. Dietfriet was unlike Edward Jones, whom she had previously met, but still keenly similar in the fact he attempted to expose her past.

“I see.” Violet simply replied in acknowledgement.

“What’re you doing…? Someone like you has to be under watch. What happened to your Master?”

Dietfriet wore the navy’s high-collar uniform. Perhaps he was stopping by for duty-related matters.

As Violet found herself unable to answer, Dietfriet clicked his tongue and added, “I don’t mean Gilbert. You’ve been taken in and are being used by his friend at the moment, right? Hurry back there. Don’t cling to me.” He gestured as though shooing a dog.

“You are aware?”

Violet’s attitude as she spoke smoothly was probably deemed as confusing for Dietfriet. When he had met her, she was a monster of low intelligence that could not utter a word. “Don’t screw around.” He stared at her as if her beautiful appearance and grown-up figure instigated more fear within him. “This concerns my sibling. And mishandling. That’s obvious. It’s my little brother we’re talking about. Now come, I get anxious seeing you in the middle of a crowd.” Dietfriet displayed his irritation. In light of his wrath, he forcefully grabbed Violet’s arm. As a grinding creak resounded, he let go of it in surprise. He looked at the arm and then at Violet’s face.

The two of them were tense. Like an herbivore encountering a carnivore amidst a prairie, both were at loss as to who would move first.

“I am not… carrying any weapons. I will not kill anyone. I was told… to not kill anymore. And I… will not do it even if ordered to.” Violet unveiled both hands as to emphasize that she was unarmed.

“Like I can believe you. Is that really so? You… are a tool that wants nothing but orders, right? I’ve let go of you, but if I ordered something, wouldn’t you do it? Hey. You used to do that when I commanded you in the past, didn’t you?”

“I will not.”

Dietfriet thrust a finger-gun onto Violet’s chest. His nail lightly pierced her cleavage. It seemed her self-defense reaction would awaken at the raw feeling of being touched by the long fingertip of a man. Her usual self would have taken action upon it immediately. However, she did not move.

“Kill yourself.”

Violet’s breathing halted. It was still for one, two, three seconds. Although air soon filled her body again, her face remained pale. Even the sound of her heartbeats felt as if it would stop at the words she received from the man that reminisced vestiges of the one she respected and loved in looks.

And yet, Violet responded, “I will not. I have been… ordered to live.” The reply she gave with utmost effort was mixed with sorrow.

“Seriously? Close call. I thought about this… after I had handed you over to Gil… He told you not to die or something, right…? Really, what a close call. He’s a softie. It would have been better if you had died while being used by Gilbert. And yet you’re still alive and kicking. Even now… I still visit the families of the people you killed to give them money.”

The field of vision of Violet’s blue eyes grew unsteady. The fingertip that was pulled away from her had not drawn blood, yet those words impacted her painfully in the same way that physical violence would. “If… there… is… something I can—”

“I don’t need anything!! Not from you!”

As he raised his voice, he attracted others’ attention. The duo wound up looking like a man in a military uniform intimidating a civilian woman.

“You… too… leave. Just leave.”

“I still… have questions.”

Dietfriet gave a deep, deep sigh. He scratched his bangs and scowled at Violet as if he truly did hate her. And so, he proceeded to grasp the artificial arm that he had once pushed. “Then come with me in a way that wouldn’t look weird to everyone else. We’re going to another place.”

By presumption, Violet came as close to Dietfriet as she could. The guests nearby most likely believed they just had a lover’s quarrel.

The two walked mutely for a while. Dietfriet’s consideration in his manner of guiding a lady was proportional to the abusive language he had used on Violet. Whether or not it was something he did on automatic without meaning to could be conjectured in his facial expression. He was wearing the navy’s uniform, after all. Such behavior might be conventional. That is, walking as if being protected by an adult man.

It was not Violet’s first time walking through a scenery of people laughing joyfully with her hand being pulled by someone in a military uniform, yet it was overall a rare life experience. The situation was completely different from the previous time. The person she had chased, the height of his line of sight upon looking at her, everything.

The full-fledged female soldier reached out for her emerald brooch naturally. Her child self might have been the invincible one. The grown-up Auto-Memories Doll Violet was wavering in apprehension.

Once the number of people diminished, Dietfriet released her arm as if throwing her away.

“You have any business with me? If it’s about resentment, I won’t listen.”

“I do not… resent you.”

Dietfriet snorted. “I wonder about that. I get praises and grudges from many directions. I have that sort of personality, after all. Sometimes, I feel like I’ll be detonated just like that.”

“I will not do it. I will not do… such a thing to you.”

At Violet’s response, his green eyes strained indescribably. A fury unlike his primary disdain was encompassed in said eyes.

As if being jostled by Dietfriet while he approached her, Violet took a few steps back. Her spine stuck against the trunk of a big tree, but as she intently stared back at him regardless without averting her gaze, a fist flew next to her face. She was not hit, but a piece of wood scratched her cheek. She was not the only one who bled. With a side-glance, she confirmed that blood was shed from Dietfriet’s fist.

“Do you remember…? When you were small, I used to punch and kick you.”

“Yes.”

“Whenever I didn’t feel your killing intent, you would receive a certain degree of violent treatment from me. When I’m with you, I become a monster too… you make me like this.”

“I… make you…?”

“That’s right. It’s your fault. It’s like that even now. Being with and talking to you infuriate me. My heart can’t rest. You do that to me. You killed my companions. What happened back then appears in my dreams over and over. But though I’m disgusted to hell by you, I don’t despise you. No, it might be that I simply hate you so much I can’t handle it, but it doesn’t feel like spite. It’s closer to giving up. I think I have no choice but conform to the fact a defective asset like you exists in this world… have you any idea why?” Dietfriet punched the tree once again with his other fist.

Violet did not look away. She earnestly stared at the other with those blue eyes. Perhaps because they were too blue and clear, they wound up bringing about a feeling of exposure to Dietfriet.

“One of my comrades that you killed had tried to rape you. That’s why you murdered him. Everything, everything, everything, everything goes in circles! It’s because it all goes in circles…! That’s why I don’t resent any of it.” Dietfriet said.

“The things… that I did… and that you did…?”

“That’s right. Hasn’t anyone told you?”

Violet lightly shook her head. “No, I have been told about it.”

As if hitting the mark, Hodgins’s prediction now befell upon Violet, “And then, for the first time, you’ll notice the many burns you have. You’ll realize that there’s still fire at your feet. You’ll realize that there are people pouring oil onto it. It might be easier to live without knowing all this. There will certainly be times when you’ll end up crying as well.”

Until the time when her eyelids would close for eternity, she would not know the feeling of having her body burn. Such was the monster she had been destined to be. Yet the monster, the tool, Violet was currently living as a person. She had been doing so ever since she had cried as she brought a deceased youth back to his hometown – rather, way before that. Despite sniffing the smell of herself being wrapped and scorching in flames, she had chosen to ‘live’.

“And that’s why, even if you begrudged me, I would tell you, ‘like I care’.”

There was a reason why she had chosen to live as a person. Only, that was the sole shining light in the monstrous girl’s life.

“You are mistaken, that is not it… my apologies for stopping you. I had… simply… wanted to ask about Major.”

Dietfriet slowly loosened his fist. Blood welled in his white knuckles. “He turned into a complete mess thanks to you, but what about him?”

“What should I do?”

“Haah?”

Violet Evergarden asked Dietfriet Bougainvillea, “Although I am… a tool, I was unable to protect him. But… he told me to live, hence why I am living. If there is… anything else… that I… could do, I wish you to tell me. Is it all right… for me to be alive? I end up… overflowing with sensations. Sensations… from being involved with people. Just from being involved with them. Even though… I am Major’s tool… I was… told to live… I… towards Major…”

The two of them used to be a monster and her keeper, a wielder and his tool. Everything in their relationship had changed.

“As if I’d know!! Why are you asking me!?”

Even so, the servant pursued teachings from her former master.

“Because I used to be… your tool.”

The monster he had picked from an isolated island had developed, became able to speak and was trembling in restlessness.

“If you’re a tool, don’t go having a will of your own!”

Trembling in restlessness and seeking for help.

“Because… you… used to be… my… Master.”

Dietfriet was caught off-guard by Violet’s statement.

——Did you think I was your Lord?

Violet’s blue orbs were beautifully limpid. Therefore, they caused Dietfriet to reminisce to the things he had made her do in the past like a mirror.

“As if I give a damn about a tool I threw away! You’re a monster and a calamity that destroyed my little brother’s life!”

The things people did to others came back to them through time.

“Sir Dietfriet… then, why is it… that you… gave me to Major?”

Pain and gentleness came back to him. It was a gaze that seemed to shoot in his direction. One that was hanging onto him, but that did not say so. Those were the same eyes she had showed Dietfriet when parting ways with him. He had been pierced by such gaze and brought her with him from that remote island, leaving her to his younger brother, who was the only member of their family that he had contact with.

Why had he handed her over to Gilbert? It was as Violet had said.

She was a useful tool, yet Dietfriet had deemed her as too much for him. He did not believe he had a concrete proof that his younger brother could properly use her as he entrusted her to him. The fact that he could have kept her alive and sold her must have run through his head. It felt as if Gilbert had been pressed on by Dietfriet.

What did Dietfriet have in mind when leaving Violet to Gilbert? Was there really no one as option except for Gilbert? What about the other navy officers? Back then, there must have been additional choices. Yet he gave her away to his family.

“Do you understand human feelings?” Dietfriet stretched out his hands to grab Violet’s collar.

Did he want to hit her? Did he want to kill her? Or perhaps was it a lecture?

“If you do, then die. Accept my wrath and grief. But you… won’t die even if I tell you to, right?”

“Yes.”

“I won’t die either. And I don’t want to understand… what you’re puzzled about. I’ve been doing things much worse than you did for a living. But so what? I’m alive. When I die, it’ll be over. Even I have laments and hardships. There are also times when I think dying would be much better, and at those moments, I consider doing so. You keep making a face like you’re the only one having it hard; everyone has it hard. The guys you killed wouldn’t have died had they not gotten involved with me. It might have been my fault. I was the commander, after all. I wasn’t able to protect them while leading them. But, y’know, Monster… if you… have the slightest remorse for what you did, and won’t die no matter what… live on, until you get killed by someone or your lifespan runs out. Rather than dying…”

Did he want to hit her? Did he want to kill her? Or perhaps…

“…it’s harder to stay alive.”

Perhaps…

“It’s way harder to stay alive. Still, swallow all of it down and live on. It just so happens that those who can’t do this end up dying. If you won’t die by your own hands, never blame your sins on anyone, and live on. Live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live, live…” Dietfriet suddenly let go of Violet’s collar, “and then die.”

Violet regarded Dietfriet with a gaze unlike the one she would give Gilbert, but it was certainly of someone who was looking at her Lord. “Sir Dietfriet. Has Major really… passed away?”

“What do you… want me to say?”

At his words, Violet inhaled a ragged breath. She could see something glistening in the sky. “You will not… say ‘yes’, as everyone else, will you? I have just confirmed it. If Major had died, you would definitely, by all means… already have killed me.”

Within Violet’s field of vision, something fell from the blue skies over Dietfriet’s head, like snow, like flowers.

“He is alive, right?”

The Flying Letters were raining down. A gush of wind swabbed in-between the two, blowing fiercely with a rumble. The letters flowed about like a blizzard.

Yellow planes flew as if cutting the sky open. They scattered the letters that carried the feelings of many, so as to deliver them to the people below. It was as if they meant to say, “Choose one from these. The letter you will pick up upon its fall will cheer for your fate.”

“Violet!” Within a deprived line of sight, someone yelled Violet’s name and forcefully carried her as if she were luggage.

Dietfriet’s figure grew farther and farther away. She attempted whispering his name, but could no longer reach him. The last she saw of him was as he abruptly turned on his heels. He did not spare a single glance in her direction.

Violet then called out to the person running after desperately abducting her, “President… Hodgins.”

“Keep your head low!”

“Everything is fine, President Hodgins.”

“It’s not! Why… are you with such a dangerous person!?”

Violet checked once more the spot of the shining object that she had confirmed earlier. Nothing could be seen there anymore. “It really is all right. I had already noticed that I was under the aim of his underling’s sniper rifle from that hill.”

“‘Sniper’, you say…!?”

“His bodyguards were not together with him, but once I was close to him, I was able to sense the danger. That person… had always walked around with bodyguards… so I knew it when I did not see them. But that was merely for watch. He did not have any intention to give a signal. President Hodgins, is work going well?”

Her calmness was usually reliable, but he could not say so in such a situation. Hodgins replied with anger and impatience blended with relief, “I was thinking Cattleya would cry, so I ended it as soon as possible… and then, I heard you had gone after a man in military uniform… I got chills. Don’t ever go see Gilbert’s older brother, Little Violet. Though that person is related to Gilbert by blood, they’re completely different people. Even if he’s your former Lord, you can’t. He’s a scary one. He… hates you. I was careless… From now on, even if it’s a festival, we won’t participate in this one. I thought you were going to be dragged back into the military… I’ll have you go back home for today. Okay?”

“Yes.”

“Did he say anything? Are you all right?”

Violet didn’t answer immediately. She stretched a hand towards the sky. Still being carried by Hodgins, she took one letter in her hands.

“Hey, did he say anything weird? Little Violet?”

She picked the thoughts of a person directed to another.

“No, no. Nothing… I’ve only… received something.”

“Live.”

“What was it?”

“Without ever blaming anyone, live. Live. Live.”

“Encouragement.”

“And then die.”

Dietfriet walked amidst the dispersed letters. He distanced himself from the center of the maneuver area, on which people were going crazy about the Flying Letters, entering the control tower that was forbidden of access for anyone except the staff. He nodded at those wearing the same naval uniform as himself, as well as those wearing the army’s.

“If you’d done anything uncalled for, my underlings in the acrobatic flight would have seen it.” Amongst them, a man who stood on the side spoke to him. “They’re still flying.” As a screech resounded from his mechanical arm, the man who had talked pointed towards the sky.

“It’s been a few years.”

His appearance was different from when Dietfriet knew of him. One of his eyes was covered by an eyepatch, and a laceration was half-hidden by it. His hair was the color of dusk. His emerald green irises were as real gems. His profile, bordered on melancholy, littered with coldness. His tall body was clad in the purplish black army uniform of Leidenschaftlich, the seacoast country so famous for being a military nation. It was not the one that any soldier could wear. A golden badge attached to his cloak indicated the scale of his status.

Gilbert waved off Dietfriet’s hand, which had rested on his shoulder.

“How cold. Just now, I met your tool.”

For the two of them, it was obvious what “tool” referred to.

“I ain’t lying. She chased after me. It doesn’t look like she mistook me for you, though. Be careful. You’re pretending to be dead, right? Why are you doing things in such a complicated way…?”

“Brother, about Violet…”

“I didn’t tell her anything.” Dietfriet uttered no lie. “It seems she was at loss after you were gone. I just told her something as her former Lord: to live as much as she could and then die.”

Due to him not having affirmed anything, Violet Evergarden had gone back home with the hope she that had been embracing reassured. He did not intend to reveal that to his younger brother.

“This is your wish, right? It’s probably not the same… for that thing. Before I realized, someone was taking her away. Since he had conspicuous red hair, it must have been that colleague of yours from your military school days, right? He must have thought I was gonna kill her. Haha, as if I could manage. If I were able to kill her, I already would have… Hey, Gil. You wouldn’t possibly say that you like that monster, would you? You’ve raised it into a pretty fine woman, but you know what’s inside. Stop that.”

“It doesn’t concern you.”

“It does. You’re important. You’re my little brother.”

“This is between me and Violet. It doesn’t concern… anyone else. The one who pushed everything onto that ‘important little brother’ was you, wasn’t it? Whatever I, who was left behind…” Gilbert’s emerald orbs slanted. The sky was so bright that watching it caused his eyes to ache. However, he did not close them. “…am betting my whole life to protect is my business. I am carving my own position for that. Right now, my reason to live isn’t for the sake of aiming for even higher-ranking prestige in the army, or for cleaning up after you in the Bougainvillea household. It’s for her. If you ever do anything, I will crush you with all I have. That’s what my weapons are for. This won’t change even if my opponent is you, Brother.”

Seeing how much his younger brother, whom he was meeting for the first in a long time, had changed, Dietfriet observed the sky as if it were too dazzling. “You’re… not small anymore, huh.” He balled a fist and attempted to punch Gilbert on the shoulder.

Gilbert accepted it. He grabbed ahold of the other’s hand firmly. Dietfriet endured the throbbing in his hand and wrapped it over Gilbert’s. It was almost as when they held hands in their childhood.

“Hey, I may be a shitty brother to you, but… I love you.”

The brothers told each other secrets. In low voices, so that no one else would hear.

“I know.”

Within the Bougainvillea house, they had always talked in such way. In order to not be scolded, they would only whisper, just the two of them.

“You really… do understand, huh. Even like this, I love you… with all my might. I love you, Gilbert… I… wonder why… I just… can’t properly convey this to the people I’m really fond of.”

“I know, Brother.”

As the veil of night descended, the people who had put off the Aeronautical Exhibition relied on the moonlight and the lamps of their rooms to read the words of encouragement sent to them by someone unknown. Were their own letters inspiring anyone? With their thoughts running wild, they thoroughly reflected on that day. It might have been a good one for some. It might have not for others. Whichever it was, the kindness given to them unconditionally reduced the loneliness of a long night and the anxiety towards following morning, bestowing them with a tiny bit of hope.

Standing alone by a window, Violet attempted opening the single envelope that she had brought with her from the Flying Letters after having been taken back to the Evergarden mansion.

“Yes.”

All it contained were the words “cheer up”, with a handwriting that seemed to be the one of a child.

Dawn broke equally to everyone. No matter who it was.

Mornings were merely a small part of a whole day. However, it was also an important moment in which people’s conduct would be demarcated. The color of the sky they would see, the scent of the air, whether they had eaten, how much they had slept the day before – each little element was definite for their choices and actually dictated their fates. Without knowing that much, people would afterwards regret the decisions they made casually. After all, dawn broke equally to everyone, but that applied solely to the living.

Once something begun, the only thing left to do was move on towards the end.