A small light ball suddenly was shot into the sky, and the garden was illuminated.
A voice my ear is used to hearing came from far in the party venue, and the owner of that voice was walking rapidly here.
“Hikaru! Why did you leave?! I was searching for you, you know?!” (Rifreya)
That was unexpected.
I even thought that we wouldn’t be seeing each other today.
“Eh…Hikaru…? Were you crying?” (Rifreya)
Rifreya closes her face on me. I moved my face away because I didn’t want to be looked at.
“Haha, no way. I was simply getting some night wind.” (Hikaru)
“But…you are making a terrible face.” (Rifreya)
“Might be because I drank a bit too much.” (Hikaru)
I couldn’t even see the face of Rifreya and just gave a halfhearted answer.
“Hikaru…that’s no good… Even I have been holding it back, you know…” (Rifreya)
“Even though I had already decided to smile till the end…to separate with a smile…” (Rifreya)
Rifreya hung her head down and her shoulders shook.
I didn’t even think for one second that she was thinking like that, so I didn’t know what to do here.
In the garden where the curtains of the night had fallen, only the sobbing of Rifreya silently rang.
“Hikaru… I will be leaving tomorrow…” (Rifreya)
Those words squeezed my heart.
Even though I already knew that’s what would happen.
Even though that’s what I wished for.
“I decided at the time when you were unconscious. If your decision didn’t change even when you woke up…I would be leaving before my own resolve wavered. If I didn’t…I won’t be able to leave you anymore after all.” (Rifreya)
“I see…” (Hikaru)
Rifreya hasn’t spoken about this since the time I woke up today, so I didn’t do it either.
Our relationship had ended at the stairs to the 4th Floor when we were waiting for the Demon Lord.
I rejected her and she cried.
And at the moment she used Photon Ray, it was cemented.
Rifreya placed her forehead onto my chest while I was stock still.
I felt the uncomfortable feeling of the several millions of viewers watching me even in a moment like this, and I hated myself for being bothered by that.
Even though I want to face her properly at least at our last moments.
“…The race where you were competing against others for the number of viewers that you told me about before, what happened with that?” (Rifreya)
An hesitant question while still looking down.
“I couldn’t do it. I was doing well, but there’s always a better one out there.” (Hikaru)
“…I see… Then, the matter of reviving your childhood friend…” (Rifreya)
“Yeah…it is a shame.” (Hikaru)
I thought that putting each word out there didn’t bring about anything good, but that wasn’t the case.
It was good.
“But I think it is good that you can now use Photon Ray, Rifreya. I can feel as if I have repaid my debt with you a bit for accompanying me in my exploration…” (Hikaru)
“I didn’t want to learn Photon Ray.” (Rifreya)
“I…! I didn’t want to leave you, Hikaru!” (Rifreya)
Rifreya says this as if she was spitting out what was accumulated inside of her, and she grabs my wrist while still looking down.
“All this time…All this time, I thought that I would be fine with living as an explorer forever if possible, and there’s no need to go back to my home anymore… I am horrible, aren’t I? I…am only thinking about myself. And even now, even though my little sister is suffering from a disease, I am finding the person I love…and am getting all riled up about myself…” (Rifreya)
I don’t know how big her dream of becoming a templar is.
However, her feelings of wanting to stay with me even if she had to kick that away are most likely not a lie.
Even me, if I weren’t an otherworlder but a native of this world…no, if I had just been an individual that had been coincidentally thrown into this world, I would have most likely chosen to be together with Rifreya.
But……it simply isn’t the case.
“Rifreya, I am a terrible man for saying this, but…I loved you. I don’t know how many times you have saved me, having come to this world I knew nothing about. You saved not only my life, but also my heart. That’s why…thank you.” (Hikaru)
The words I planned on not saying…I told them to her.
I couldn’t not tell her. That was my last sign of sincerity towards her.
“Fufu…I know. I already know just how much you treasure me. I have been thinking the whole…whole time since then after all. If you wanted to, you could have done as you pleased with me, and yet…you really are an idiot… Really…so kind, so stupidly honest, so diligent…..and so sweet.” (Rifreya)
The music coming from the party venue changed into a slow melody.
The sky filled with stars in this cloudless night were twinkling vibrantly, and the full moon was shining brightly in the eastern sky.
“…Hikaru, how about a dance?” (Rifreya)
“Sorry…I said this before, but even when we are like this, the people of the whole world are watching, so I—” (Hikaru)
Just when I was about to finish saying that, both of my hands were grabbed, and Rifreya pulled me onto her body.
Something soft was pushed against me and it flustered me.
In a position that was practically as if we were hugging each other, at a distance where we could even hear the heartbeats of each other…
“I am telling you I don’t mind. Also…if it is just a dance, there should be no problem, right?” (Rifreya)
The closer I can feel our distance like this, the more painful it feels thinking about the distance that we will be having from now on.
Is it the same for Rifreya?
…No, it is exactly because that’s the case that she said she would be leaving tomorrow.
This will be the last moment I will be spending with her.
“Here, 1-2-3. 1-2-3. Fufu, you are good.” (Rifreya)
“The older sister taught me after all.” (Hikaru)
The older sister Celica was an incredibly social person. She said ‘you gotta at least be able to dance’, and she used me as a practice partner for a while.
Thanks to that, I managed to learn it as well even if it is just the simple steps.
“Hey, Hikaru, at the time when Alex-san spoke to me, why did you run away?” (Rifreya)
“…Don’t ask me that…” (Hikaru)
“Eh, but isn’t he your friend?” (Rifreya)
“I wonder about that.” (Hikaru)
Alex is an earthling like me, and I do think he is a good guy.
But it is not like we are close enough that I would be able to state firmly that we are friends.
“You thought I would be seduced, right? That’s why you couldn’t watch.” (Rifreya)
Rifreya giggled with a ‘kusukusu’ and stuck her body to mine.
It brings back a memory of the past. Maybe she is drunk.
“…That’s right. Alex is a whole lot manlier than me after all… I have been thinking the whole time that a beauty like you doesn’t match someone like me.” (Hikaru)
“Fufu, it is good that you are honest… But I only love you, Hikaru. You are the only one I want to stay with forever and ever…” (Rifreya)
As if laughing, as if singing, as if crying, Rifreya placed her feelings towards me in those steps of hers, and I couldn’t say anything back.
“What Alex-san spoke about…was about you, Hikaru. He said that you were trying to act all tough by yourself and didn’t seem to have any friends, so he was worried. He said you are a stiff guy, but told me to please stay with you and to help you. He asked this of me.” (Rifreya)
“That guy…said something like that…?” (Hikaru)
“Yeah, that’s why, I asked him instead -to take care of you when I am gone.” (Rifreya)
“I see…” (Hikaru)
I would say I have been avoiding him, but he is most likely a good guy at his core.
Compared to that, I am a terrible guy. I have to apologize to him.
Slow tempo music continued for a few more times, and Rifreya and I slowly…ever so slowly took our steps as if confirming our last moments with each other.
And then, the music stopped, and we stopped our feet.
Rifreya didn’t separate her body from mine, and she silently raised her head with her body still onto mine.
Her beautiful looks were laid bare with the light of the moon.
Shining eyes with conviction residing in them.
She seemed to want to say something and opened her lips slightly.
“R-Rifreya…you mustn’t… Everyone is watching… You may not really feel them, but they really…” (Hikaru)
“It is okay.” (Rifreya)
Rifreya simply gave that short response and closed her eyes.
There was no backing to those words, but for some reason, the me at the time was pushed by this.
Her face approached mine to the point where our breaths reached.
I couldn’t fight against it.
A kiss that only touched for just a few seconds.
Her face separates, and with a bright red face, she said bashfully.
“See? No one is watching -only the moon.” (Rifreya)
Saying this, she kissed me one more time.
Sweetness spread from our touched lips, and we desired each other for a while.
…Even when knowing that these would be our last memories together.