「……Say Riana. About the Harvest Festival, Have you thought about it? 」
「Eh, ah……. Mmm, it’s……」
With the two pairs of twins going around the village as usual, Deen matched with Riana’s strides and asked in a soft voice.
Riana’s words muddled, as she thought about how to respond in her mind. She doesn’t dislike Deen. Deen and Karina are both Fillia and Riana’s friends of similar age.
Although in that regard, there was Kyrill too but, the impression of him being Ardis’s acquaintance and a tutor was more prominent.
So, for Riana, Deen and Karina can be considered her first friends. However, if she is asked if they’re closer than a friend, then she would be troubled to answer.
Even though not disliking, their distance hasn’t shortened enough for her to agree spending a long time with him.
「……Please give me more time. 」
「Nn, okay. You can always refuse if you don’t like it. 」
Saying so to Riana who seemed to be putting her answer on hold, Deen took his distance again. On the way back on that day, this time, Karina called out to Riana.
「Riana, you’re really frowning. Maybe like you’re thinking how to properly refuse Deen’s invitation? 」
The question that Karina asked as if reading her thoughts surprised Riana.
「How did you know? 」
「Even if you ask. 」
Karina smiled bitterly.
「Both Fillia and you are really expressive on the face. 」
Riana touched her own face but, it’s not like she can figure out anything with that. Seeing her like that, Karina spurts out some air.
「Well, it’s not like I don’t understand your hesitation. It’s not like you’re close enough to know Deen even if you’re asked so suddenly. ……But it’s not like I don’t understand Deen’s feelings too. 」
「Deen’s feelings? 」
「After all, for him, it has only been a dream to spend time with someone he likes during the harvest festival. Girls that are close to him in age, excluding me, there’s only Mary who’s five years older and Chelsea seven years younger. 」
「A girl Deen likes? 」
「That’s right. 」
「Isn’t it obvious that it’s Riana? 」
「……It’s not the same for Fillia and Ardis? 」
Seemingly not understanding why her name was called, Riana asked.
「Leaving aside Fillia, why does Ardis-san’s name come out there. 」
Karina who looked strange at Riana’s question suddenly looked like she understood something.
「Ah, eh……. Could it be, Riana doesn’t have someone she likes yet? 」
「There’re a lot people I like. Fillia and Ardis, Nere and Kyrill too, Deen and Karina are all people I like. 」
Hearing that, Karina sighed.
「Haa……, I see. No wonder Deen is having hardships. 」
Karina who somehow sympathized with Deen spoke in a tone like explaining to a child.
「You see, Riana. Deen’s like and the like you said are different. His like is not for someone as a person, but someone opposite his gender, it means that he likes you as a girl. 」
「There’s a difference? 」
Not quite understanding what Karina said, Riana tilted her head slightly.
「Umm, in other words. Someone special even among all the people you like? 」
「Fillia, she’s special to me. 」
「It’s not like that. In this case, think only about a male. Unn……, for example, is there someone that can 『Make your heart race if you think about them』? 」
Thinking about whether if there’s someone like that for her, Riana shook her head as no one came up.
「If not then……, someone that 『You always want to stay together with』? 」
If it’s someone she wants to always stay together with, then there’s Fillia and Ardis. However, since Karina said to limit it to males only, she excluded Fillia. For Riana, Ardis is the one it seems.
「Or maybe 『Being together makes you feel assured』. 」
Talking about assurance, Ardis’s face immediately turned up. He’s none other than the person that provided a sleeping place and meals to herself and Fillia.
If not for Ardis, they would’ve still been treated as things, and even the young them had understood what would happen if their lives continued like that.
「Or someone that 『Makes you feel unbearable if he left』. 」
She never thought about what if Ardis left. But just as she thought about it, an inexplicable sense of sadness and fear assaulted Riana. No, only that one word floated in her mind.
Just like how she treats Fillia as her own half, she realized that Ardis is an existence that could not be missing in both herself and Fillia’s life.
「Or something like 『Wanting that person to be happy』. 」
If Ardis is happy, then she would be happy too. She wants Ardis to always have a gentle smile, and she wanted it to be directed to herself and Fillia.
「Or maybe 『Wanting to be of help to that person』. 」
She had received many blessings from Ardis. That’s why, Riana wanted to return something. Of course, it isn’t something she can do now.
She could only be baggage in a fight now, she didn’t have enough knowledge, and she couldn’t even brew delicious tea like Nere.
Even so. Even if it’s a little, having given so much, she wanted to be of help to Ardis. With Karina’s words hitting herself in the heart every time, Riana started having doubts over her own feelings.
Ardis is undoubtedly an important person for both herself and Fillia. However, she put it away and thought again. What is this feeling.
Her feelings for Ardis is a little different from for Fillia. What difference is there, not hearing what Karina beside was even saying at that point, Riana fell into her deep thoughts.
A few days after that. The Harvest Festival started on the day after the village had harvested all the fields.
Even though a Harvest Festival, it’s only on a scale of a village with about a hundred people. A bonfire was lit in the center of the village with villagers enjoying themselves with alcohol surrounding it.
If there was someone looking from afar, they could probably spot a bright spot in the dark forests of the Canobis. Although only a small celebration, it’s the day that everyone in the village can laugh together in the year.
Apparently the harvest this year was better, the drunk villagers was laughing loudly. Sera and the village chief sat on a special place at the plaza, while the other villagers sat around the bonfire on suitable stumps, eating and laughing, celebrating the peace of the past year.
And among those stumps, there was Riana, sipping on a light fruit cider.
「Did you refuse Deen’s invitation? 」
On the other side of Ardis beside her, Fillia asked. Riana for a moment looked at Ardis, and wordlessly shook her head.
Fillia didn’t seem particularly interested, as she bit on the meat in her hand. Unlike Fillia who was eating it deliciously, Riana didn’t seem particularly energetic, as Ardis put his hand on Riana’s head and started patting.
Not minding her hair becoming a mess, Riana indulged herself in the violent pat. Until few days ago, Riana didn’t realize. The only one that she allowed doing so was Ardis only.
Other people had patted her head before. Nere, Kyrill and even the female magician that visited the house before did so.
However, Kyrill or Nere wouldn’t do it so roughly and always patted her gently. There’re no cases of her hair getting messy because of them.
Even if it was Nere or Kyrill, she would probably shake them off if they roughed her hair.
As for the red-haired female magician, she didn’t stop at just patting her, she even hugged her and rubbed her cheeks on her, honestly, it was an utmost troublesome matter for Riana.
When the magician was pouting after getting called out by Ardis, she naturally didn’t feel disappointed. As for the accompanying big man with a scary face, or the sarcastic looking man, she wouldn’t even think of getting close.
Ardis is special. The more she recalled Karina’s question, the more Riana became self-aware.
However, she still didn’t know whether it is 『A different like than the normal like』 that Karina said. Just that undoubtedly, she felt that her place was beside Ardis.
This place is for her to be herself, and also the only thing that allowed both herself and Fillia to live as themselves, Riana only realized this after so long.