Chapter 2: Spring at the Age of 11 (Part – 2)
Chloe and Steed moved to the garden that spreads out in front of the Beltoise mansion.
The well-maintained garden is in full bloom with spring flowers such as nemophila and white roses.
Every time a refreshing breeze blows, the scent of honey wafts and fills the entire garden with a sweet fragrance.
Around the pale purple flowers described as “spring fairies,” lovely checkered white butterflies fluttered playfully.
Steed tried to escort Chloe as usual by taking her hand, but he quickly gave up when he saw her happily rummaging through the basket of cookies.
Instead, they walked a little closer, with their shoulders touching.
Chloe was so busy untying the package of cookies that she didn’t notice Steed smiling at her.
Guards and maids followed them closely from a little distance away.
But at this distance, they couldn’t hear the content of their conversation.
“Now we’re alone together.”
Next to the smiling Steed, Chloe picked up a cookie and tossed it into her mouth.
It’s impolite, and she wouldn’t do it if she were with someone else.
As the duke’s daughter, she has received a proper lady’s education.
If told to, she can behave like a lady.
(But Steed is next to me.)
(Normally, I should show more respect to Steed, who is a member of the royal family.)
Steed always says, “Don’t worry about it. I want you to be yourself in front of me,” so she takes advantage of his words.
“From now on, I’m going to tell you something unbelievable. It may sound like a fairy tale, but please believe me.”
Steed holds Chloe’s hand with a serious expression.
Overwhelmed, Chloe nods while munching on something.
“Uh. . .uh-huh.” (I understand.)
“Thank you. Well then. . .”
Steed takes a deep breath and begins to speak.
“Actually, I’ve had a recurring dream since I was young. Oh, it’s not a dream about marrying you.”
As a result of imagining the wedding with Chloe every night before going to bed, Steed often dreams about it.
The day after he has the dream, he always comes to see Chloe and reports it to her.
In that flow, he sometimes conveys words that sound like a proposal amidst the commotion.
Chloe always listens to it with a grain of salt.
(Steed has a girlish side to him, doesn’t he?)
She wondered what the girls who dream of Steed would think if they knew about it.
Part of her wants to spill the beans.
Surely the young ladies who make up Steed’s fan club would be thrilled and make a fuss.
Chloe’s good-for-nothing reputation for spreading such rumors throughout society would surely spread.
(Well, that’s not too bad. . .)
“Well, Chloe. You’re up to no good again, aren’t you?”
“Oh, you figured it out, didn’t you?”
“I can tell by the look of your face, which looks so happy. It’s such a cute expression that I really want to keep looking at it forever, but for now, will you listen to the rest of my story?”
“Just so you know, I’m tired of hearing about dreams of weddings. What about the other dream?”
Perhaps Steed wanted to talk about his dream.
But she didn’t think there was any need for them to be alone for that.
“I’ve been dreaming about things from another world. I realized this morning that it was something that happened in my past life. In my dream, I was a student and was playing a game at the request of my sister. Even if I say it’s a game, you wouldn’t understand, would you? Think of it like a book with pictures and stories. Got it?”
No, she doesn’t.
“A game? Past life? Huh? Do you have a fever or something?”
They’re already 10 years old.
They’re not children who would believe such a crazy story.
Chloe had no idea why Steed started talking about such things.
Could this be a joke?
If so, it’s too poorly executed.
“Steed, I didn’t know you had such a poor sense of humor.”
“It’s not a joke. I’m serious. It’s difficult to believe right away, though.”
Even when he’s fantasizing about married life with Chloe, he could make a more sensible statement.
“Suddenly talking about another world and being serious about it. . .it’s giving me a headache. And what do you mean by ‘past life’ anyway?”
“It’s about me in a different time before I was born as I am now.”
“I know the meaning of the word ‘past life.’ I’m asking what you’re trying to say with such an absurd story.”
“Sorry, don’t be mad. Even if you’re angry, you’re still lovely.”
“I know, I’ll hold back on praising you. Will you listen to the rest of what I want to tell you? There are other important things I want to convey to you. Okay?”
Asked for her agreement, Chloe responds with a “Okay, I understand.”
“I said it was a game earlier, but it’s like a story. In a book, the story usually follows a straight line until the end, right? But a game is different. The person reading it chooses from various options that appear along the way. The result affects the flow of the story and can change the ending.”
While continuing to eat cookies, Chloe imagines it.
A story with various endings depending on the choices made, just like real life.
But she thinks it sounds interesting.
Rather than following a predetermined story, she feels excited to be able to choose and cooperate in creating the story.
“Do you understand this so far?”
“Well, sort of.”
“I’m glad you seem to have understood.”
After saying that, Steed’s expression was a side of him that Chloe had never seen before.
His eyes, tinged with a little melancholy, were lowered as if struggling to speak.
Immediately after, Steed lifted his face as if he had made up his mind and looked at Chloe.
“We are characters in that game.”
“Huh. . .? What do you mean? Us?”
“You and me. Not just us, but probably everyone in this world.”
Chloe’s mouth hangs open, and she stares blankly.
She is holding a half-eaten cookie in her hand.
“In my past life, I played a game called ‘Steed’, where a prince named Steed and a young lady named Chloe appeared. That means it’s about us. We are characters in the game’s world.”
Are we the characters in the story?
She stares intently at Steed, who is saying more and more incomprehensible things.
She doesn’t understand what he’s talking about.
What does it mean to be a human in a game. . .?
“I’ll ask again. . .Is this just your imagination?”
“I wish it were just my imagination, but unfortunately, it’s the truth.”
“. . .”
What could be the reason?
Even though he is a romantic, he’s not the type to say such delusional things.
“If there are people who believe in such stories, I’d like to meet them.”
Our world is part of a story that is being told in another world.
In other words, is that what he’s trying to say?
“Steed, are you okay? Do you have a fever or something?”
“I only get a fever for you.”
“Hmm, you’re sick.”
Becoming increasingly worried, she considered having the maids call a doctor.
However, Steed gently stops Chloe from doing so.
“Please, Chloe. I understand that it’s hard to believe, but it’s an important matter.”
Steed doesn’t lie to Chloe.
Chloe, who knows that well, is a little troubled.
“Why is it so important?”
“Because if we leave things as they are, you will be facing destruction.”