Chapter 55: Ayase Miharu
The first love of Amakawa Haruto was when he reach the age of discretion.
And it was the cute girl who had the same age as him, called Ayase Miharu.
With their houses accidentally next to each other, and accidentally born in the spring of the same year.
Haruto, since he was born in spring, and Miharu since she was born in spring.
Both of them were born, raised, and played together since they were still babies.
They were childhood friends.
There was nothing unusual about it at all.
That was just how common their relationship was.
But, for Haruto Miharu, she was a special existence.
At that time, he still didn’t know the meaning of words such as “Affection(Ai愛)” or “Love(Koi恋)” but, Miharu was truly a special existence.
He was indeed head over heels for Miharu.
He didn’t even care about the kind of mechanism caused him to love her.
Her happiness was also his happiness.
Her anger was also his anger.
Her sadness was also his sadness.
Her smile was also his smile.
(After all, since he loved her just that much, because Haruto was entranced by Miharu)
Especially when it came to love, he was fine with whatever the reason was.
But, their time together was only until they become seven years old.
Amakawa Haruto was born in an ordinary family.
There was his father and mother, and one little sister.
It was a common family.
But, that family collapsed when Haruto became seven years old.
His parent separated, Haruto with his father, and his little sister with his mother.
Haruto heard the reason for their divorce when he had already become an adult.
He heard from his father that the reason for his divorce was his mother’s has committed adultery.
Haruto’s little sister wasn’t his father’s daughter.
But, that reason had nothing to do with Haruto at that time.
He couldn’t even imagine being separated from Miharu.
That was why, Haruto begged to his father and mother while crying.
Please don’t divorce.
His father didn’t say anything, but made a sour face, and his mother apologized to Haruto while crying.
Though his little sister had yet to reach the age of description, didn’t know anything, he remembered that she, who love his mother so much, also cried when she looked at her mother’s sad figure.
Their divorce was final, Haruto was shaken when he knew that he was unable to do anything against that fate.
Haruto only wanted to be by the side of Miharu; though he was happy with only that much, even that wasn’t fulfilled.
He grieved for his own powerlessness.
He knew that it was the reality, it was vexing, futile; he wasn’t even able to stop his body from trembling.
「Don’t leave Haru-kun！」
When he told her that, Miharu was crying.
She was crying and begged him to not move.
He didn’t know what he should do.
He didn’t even know what would happen to him.
Though Haruto unintentionally cried too, he frantically pretended to be tough, even if he didn’t know the reason.
We will meet again or, because I’ll come for you.
He’s said so many things to make Miharu stop crying.
Even with that, she didn’t stop crying —.
「Let’s marry when we meet again！」
Was what he said.
Thereupon, Miharu suddenly stopped crying and looked absentmindedly at Haruto’s face.
「……… Is it, no good ？」
Haruto asked with a timid voice.
「…… Uhm. Yeah. Let’s do it! 」
Finally Miharu laughed.
That made him really happy —-.
(I’ll definitely fulfill that promise)
Was what he thought.
No matter how many years it would take.
He would protect that promise.
He would protect that smile.
With that oath, Haruto separated from Miharu.
And now, Miharu was right in front of Rio.
There was absolutely no mistake in it.
No matter how many years, even after he was reincarnated, since he easily remembered the picture of her face, that he saw a glimpse of in the high school.
Rio come back to his senses due to the wet feeling on his cheeks.
He didn’t know why, but now, Miharu was right in front of him.
He felt happy and his chest became hot just because of that.
“Dokun”, he could feel his heart throbbing.
Though he almost lost himself due to this happiness, he somehow managed to stand on the ground.
Then, he decided to take Miharu out of that coach.
He had to protect Miharu.
He would protect her from anything from then on.
Because that was the oath of Amakawa Haruto when he was still alive.
Getting into the load carrying track of the coach, Rio went toward Miharu.
Maybe she was unable to move due to fear.
That was why, Rio, smiling lightly —-.
「I came …… To save you」
He said that gently.
With immense love, as if to not cause fear to Miharu, as he was unable to do so, because of his love.
「Ah ……. Yes. Thank you very much」
Rio gently presented his hand to Miharu who looked at him, as if being entranced.
The slave girls in their surroundings looked dumbfoundedly at that spectacle, as Miharu seized Rio’s hand.
Her hand was soft and warm.
It was a white, slender, and beautiful hand.
It was different from his own hands, which were rugged due to his sword training.
His own hands, which he had just used to kill someone ……….
That person’s expression, in the moment of his death, the sickening smell of death, the feeling of killing someone for the first time, it couldn’t be forgotten and was instilled in his mind.
But, he couldn’t turn back anymore.
It was something that he already resolutely decided.
He would shoulder that burden no matter what kind of hell awaited.
Besides, it was something that he needed to protect Miharu from the cruelty of the world.
Shaking his head a little, he smiled at Miharu.
And then, gently pulled Miharu’s hand.
「Aki-chan and Masato-kun are already waiting at another place. Let’s go」
Saying that, thereupon he took her out and —–.
「Ah, eh~m, those girl are ….. 」
Miharu said that while looking at the other slave girls, who were left behind in the coach.
Rio smiled as if troubled by it.
「They’re slave. Maybe they were the slaves that went through the normal procedure, unlike in your case. It’s a crime to save them at my own convenience」
Slaves were treated as an item.
That was why, if he stole them, he was a thief, if he swindle them he was a swindler, if they were snatched with threats, he’d become a robber.
「That …….. 」
Miharu looked at them with a dumbfounded face.
Their line of sights were sticking to Rio and Miharu.
Rio pulled Miharu’s hand, as if trying to separate her from that line of sight.
He was doing that while walking silently with Miharu.
Just like that, Rio left the coach while taking Miharu with him.
To make sure that she wouldn’t look behind, he decided to take her to the nearby rock.
「Please wait for a while in this place. Since it’s dangerous, please, you absolutely mustn’t look」
After saying that and hiding Miharu behind the rock, Rio returned again to the coach.
Though the convoy and the slave merchants resumed their actions with clumsy movements, they were startled when they saw Rio coming again.
「W-What’s matter ….. ？」
The slave merchant asked, with an obviously confused expression.
That man had just tried to sell Miharu as a harlot.
Rio truly wanted to kill him.
But, he needed to go back to Miharu immediately to finish his task.
In the case that he killed that man, he couldn’t do that in that area, since it would scare Miharu.
But, he still had to be punished.
Rio poured a bone-chilling killing intent towards the slave merchant, as if trying to stab him to death.
The slave merchant let out a miserable scream.
The fear that was received by Miharu wasn’t even on that level.
It was good as long as he felt fear.
That was what he thought.
「You’re holding the luggage that was being carried by the three that you held captive, right？ Return it」
Rio ordered him, with bone-chilling voice.
「A-AAH！ I’ll return it! I’ll return it right away! 」
The slave merchant answered that way, while running in a panic into the coach.
Then immediately he came back carrying the luggage of those three, and handed it over to Rio.
「This is all of it, right？」
When he received that luggage, Rio asked the slave merchant while looking at him with emotionless eyes.
「O-Of course it is！ Everything inside! I-I even put money in it! Please trust me! 」
The slave merchant answered while vigorously nodding his head.
After taking a fleeting glance into the bag that he received, surely, there was not a little amount of gold being crammed into it.
Maybe it was consolation money.
「I see. I’ll be back if you’re lying」
After leaving those words, Rio left that place.
After Rio’s figure couldn’t be seen anymore, the slave merchant crumbled to his knees.
When he returning to the place where Miharu was, he called to her with thin smile on his face.
The cold hearted impression that he displayed in front of the slave merchant couldn’t be felt anymore.
It was a warm smile.
Looking at the figure of Rio, Miharu felt relieved, as if she was finally, truly saved.
「Ah, My luggage, thank you very much！ Let me carry that bag! 」
Miharu said her gratitude when she noticed that he was taking back their luggage.
And then, half-running, went towards Rio.
「No, let me carry it. Because it’s just a little walk from here」
「But ……. 」
「It’s alright. Please leave it to me.」
「Uhm, sorry for troubling you, then. Then, may I ask you to carry it? 」
「Yes, leave it to me」
Miharu requested Rio while bowing her head when she noticed that he was showing no intentions of handing over that task.
And then, they began to walk.
Before they noticed, the sun had already inclined toward west, though the sky still blue and sunny when he left Almond, it started to be dyed in a warm scarlet colour.
It was a beautiful scenery that couldn’t be seen in Japan.
That was what Miharu thought.
After walking with Rio since some time ago, Miharu chased him afterwards.
Miharu was walking three steps behind Rio, who was walking a little ahead of her.
Somehow, it became a natural distance.
Miharu had to do a half-run to catching up with Rio’s walking speed and every time she keep that distance between them.
There was no conversation between them during that time.
Though she noticed that, while peeking, at her and Rio’s glimmering figure [TL : Absolutely due to twilight effect] since some time ago; Miharu didn’t know what she should say to him.
Same with Rio, sometimes, except for when he was looking behind, he just somehow awkwardly looked at the sky.
Was that a dream?.
Currently, Miharu felt as if she was inside a dream.
(I mean, because the incident just now just felt unreal.)
Before they noticed, they were already in the middle of a grassland, without any signs of civilization, loitering around that place and being captured by ancient-looking people, and, as a matter of fact, becoming slaves.
It was extremely hard to believe.
But, even if that world was a dream, being saved by Rio was a fact.
(That’s why I want to at least saying my gratitude.)
Though she thought that he was strong, she was scared, as she felt that she would be awakened from that dream the moment she addressed Rio.
Miharu thought about what she was afraid of.
There was no way the youth before her would vanish, just like that, without her saying her gratitude.
That was certainly an undesired result for her.
Even so, she somehow noticed that it was something that a little different from that.
Suddenly, Miharu recalled when her eyes met with the youth’s eyes for the first time.
Thought that youth muttered something, unfortunately she couldn’t hear what he said.
Somehow she really wanted to know what that youth said at that time.
How, when she was absentmindedly thinking about those various things —.
At the unexpected moment, Miharu noticed that she no longer needed to half-run to catch up to him.
（Could it be …… ）
Miharu was staring intently at the youth’s back in front of her.
He was glancing at his back from time to time, since some time ago, maybe it was to grasp Miharu’s walking speed.
The current Rio’s walking pace was loosened compared to before; she knew that he was matching his pace with her’s.
（Is he matching his pace with mine？）
Miharu unintentionally smiled when she noticed that clumsy kindness.
For some reason it made her feel melancholic.
Why was that.
But, leaving that aside for now.
（No, I ………. ）
She was only worrying about Rio since some time ago.
Miharu felt ashamed at her own immaturity when she noticed that.
There was something that she had to do by herself, before thinking about this and that.
First was saying her gratitude and then asking for his name.
After deciding that, Miharu took a little breath while looking at Rio’s back, who was walking, a little bit away, in front of her.
「A-Uhm, Excuse me. Can I ask something? 」
Rio’s body trembled when he was suddenly be addressed by her.
He timidly turned his head to the back; the two were facing each other.
「Errr, yes. What it is? 」
「Sorry for being so suddenly. Uhm, My name is Ayase Miharu. May I hear your name? 」
Miharu asked while holding the beating of her heart, that had risen for some reason.
「Ah, Yeah. Erhm ……….. My name is, Haruto」
Rio answered with an awkward japanese pronounciation.
There was some kind of expectation in his eyes.
「Haru ……. to ……. 」
Rio’s alias left Miharu dumbfounded, no, she spoke of that name once before.
It was the name of the boy who was Miharu childhood friend.
「……. Is there something about my name？」
「Ah, no, it’s similiar to my childhood friend’s name …..」
Miharu answered while letting out a melancholic smile.
It seemed as if there was a little longing in that smile of her’s.
No, that was what Rio wanted to believe.
「Is that so, I see …….. That’s such an amazing coincidence」
Rio answered while smiling vaguely.
He unintentionally almost spilled out that he was that childhood friend.
I’m Amakawa Haruto, I died but reincarnated, I was living while thinking of you in this world.
Of course, he had no choice but to give up if Miharu loved another person but, this feelings had to be conveyed to confirm that.
Because Amakawa Haruto always regretted the fact that he ran away before even conveying his own feelings to Miharu.
(But, will she believed if I suddenly spouting such absurd story in this place?)
(Won’t she think that I’m a weirdo?)
(If things don’t go well, I might be even be treated as a pervert.)
(Or she’ll be at least be perplexed.)
(Even if she believed me, my feeling might be too heavy and Miharu might be unable to accept it.)
Rio had a deep-rooted paranoia about himself towards Miharu.
Though his feelings for Miharu wouldn’t lose to anyone, he knew that one-sided feelings like that made him no different from a stalker.
It caused an extreme discomfort, just by thinking to hit Miharu with that kind of feelings.
He suddenly faltered when he thought about such things.
Even though he had a strong desire to convey that, after meeting Miharu, he couldn’t even walk properly.
(What a clumsy man I am)
That man, who couldn’t do anything but smile, just because he became one of the adult humans.Rio was entangled by his own self doubts.
It seemed he needed to calm himself a little.
(In the meanwhile, it should be okay to be on good terms with her slowly, bit by bit)
(Because Miharu was right in front of him right now.)
(Because I’ll be the one that will protect Miharu after this)
(There’s no need to be impatient yet)
「……… Yes. Right」
After a brief silence, Miharu answered while showing a lonely smile.
Rio was drawn by that smile.
「Well then, uhm, Haruto-san」
Rio trembled when she called his name.
Though the way she said that name was a bit different to in the past, he didn’t know why he was happy just being called by her with that name.
Rio was unusually in high spirits and answered vigorously to her calling.
Miharu faltered as she was being overwhelmed by that vigor.
「Ah, uhm ……….. Is there something ？」
When he noticed that he surprised Miharu, Rio answered while smiling awkwardly.
Somehow Miharu, who was being amused by that Rio, started to giggle by herself.
「I’m sorry. …….. I just don’t know what would become of me if there was no Haruto-san. For Aki-chan and masato-kun too. Really thank you very much」
After apologizing for her giggle, Miharu bowed deeply to Rio.
「No, that’s only natural」
Right, that was only natural.
For him, the act of saving Miharu was something as natural as breathing.
As long as Miharu was there, as long as there was Miharu, he was happy with just that.
(Maybe the reason for my reincarnation was to protect Miharu on this day.)
(Wasn’t that the reason for me to live in this world?)
He couldn’t help but think that way.
「Truly thank you very much」
Miharu smiled gently at Rio, while saying her gratitude again.
That made him really happy.
「Shall we go. We can’t make them wait for us forever. We’ll be arrived soon」
Feeling the throbbing in his chest, Rio said that with a bit too high spirits.
「Yes. Of course」
Miharu smiled while nodding her head.
After that, they walked in silence once again.
But, there was none of the awkwardness from some time ago, somehow a warm atmosphere drifted between them.
The sunlight that was shining gently upon them changed it’s colour to a perfect scarlet colour.