Now that he was wearing armor instead of his usual apron, Ilias looked incredibly cool—this much was undeniable.
We’d had sex till we both turned into a mess, took a bath together, then went to sleep. The morning after, I stayed in bed and watched a certain perky, energetic someone get dressed. As for me, I was completely exhausted and spent, and I couldn’t even move from the waist down; the stamina of a knight was seriously crazy…
“Azusa… I truly…”
“I already told you; it’s okay. More importantly—once you get teleported back, make sure you take care of yourself.”
In truth, it wasn’t actually ‘okay’. But it’s not as if I could just tell him to not go, so I had no choice but to speak as if it didn’t affect me.
Ilias turned downcast at my words.
I continued watching as he dispiritedly fastened his sword to his waist. Though he had been swinging around a 2-liter plastic water bottle every day while saying it was for training, I worried over whether that was actually enough. Would he still be able to fight properly once he returned?
He became the picture of a gallant, dashing knight once he had finished getting ready. Especially when he took a knee by my bedside and pressed a kiss to the back of my hand, it looked just like in those fairytales—save for the fact that this princess was only wearing a t-shirt and boxer shorts, so I looked like an out-of-place joke more than anything.
“Azusa… for everything until now, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have no words to express how truly grateful I am..”
“……. I also… feel glad that I was able to meet you.”
Under the gaze of those blue eyes looking up at me, my true feelings unintentionally slipped. I hadn’t planned to say such a thing, and in the first place—did I actually think that stuff? I doubted and questioned myself inside, but once those few words came out, I couldn’t stop the rest from escaping.
“I really enjoyed it, this kind of life where I had someone important to me to keep in mind. It was the first time that I thought… that living with someone else could be so comforting. I wouldn’t feel that way if it were with anyone other than you, Ilias.”
He had become a part of my life, and the thought that after today, I wouldn’t be able to meet him anymore… was devastating. This wasn’t like a long-distance relationship—it was losing him forever, as if he had died. It really made me glad that he didn’t just suddenly leave without a goodbye… We had time to prepare ourselves mentally, and I was grateful for that.
“Since you were able to change me this much, once you go back, you absolutely…”
Can be happy. Will be happy, with someone that isn’t me.
It’d be fine, wouldn’t it? It should be. Ilias finding happiness in his original world would be a good thing. But…I couldn’t get those words out.
Even though he was finally able to go back after much difficulty, why can’t I wish him happiness? I finally couldn’t keep his gaze and looked away; right then, an impact coursed through my body. It took me several seconds to realize that Ilias had stood up and embraced me.
“It was the same way for me. The only person who can make me feel this kind of happiness is Azusa alone… No matter what may happen, I swore to be with you.”
“I love you… I truly love you, with all of my heart.”
Warm droplets came falling from above, and despite myself, I couldn’t help but smile. Come on, again? It’s unfair how guys as handsome as this one can make even crying look pretty. Irked by that, both of my hands moved at lightning speed to lightly smack his cheeks before pinching them.
“You sure are an idiot for making a vow to a man like me. Even if you want to take it back, I won’t allow it.”
It’s impossible, after all. Giving the person I love my blessings to be happy with somebody else and being satisfied with just that… is something that I can’t do.
Instead, I want to be a shackle that binds you.
It happened suddenly.
Ilias had finally stopped crying so I released his cheeks. At that moment—a magic array emerged beneath his feet.
This was not the first time I had seen this; it was my third time, in fact. And yet, I was still taken aback and could only stare dumbly at the sight in front of me.
Within the glowing, blue-lit formation that was surrounded by whirling gusts of wind, Ilias’s expression wobbled into a desperate smile as he called out my name.
“I’ve cried in front of you far too many times… In these last moments, at least…I won’t.”
This can’t be—
It’s happening. He’s really going back.
Bathed in surging light, Ilias knelt down on one knee and drew his sword. He turned the point of his sword skyward, both of his hands gripping the handle and holding it at chest height, then turned towards me with a gaze so intense it seemed to pierce right through me.
“To have met you is the greatest joy of my life; it is my pride. I will be to Azusa ever faithful and loyal, and hereby so swear to devote my fidelity to you..”
Even if I didn’t know what he was doing or what it meant, I understood that it represented something special; this surely wasn’t something that was just fine to do on a whim.
I only belatedly realized that his silhouette was steadily waning as he spoke—he was nearly on the brink of vanishing. With unsteady feet I took a step forward.
A transparent barrier around the edges of the formation blocked me from getting any closer.
Strong blasts of wind spun in-between the barrier and the luminous array, yet none of it got to where I was; my side was entirely still and calm—as if we were already in two separate, fundamentally different spaces.
Undeterred, I pressed both of my hands to this invisible barrier and cried out his name. He rushed to meet me with eyes full of overwhelming despair.
“Don’t—Ilias, no…don’t do this! Don’t, no, don’t go—don’t leave me, you dumbass!”
“I—I’m also…I’m also in love with you, so don’t go…Don’t leave me behind! Don’t you dare go, no, don’t leave me…I love you, you idiot, so don’t, no—Ilias, don’t leave—take me with you!!”
His voice was muffled as he cried out my name, and his hands rose up to press against the barrier as if wanting to meet mine before everything was swallowed up by blinding, white light.
In the next moment, when my vision cleared, no traces of what just happened remained.
There was only me inside an apartment that looked the same as always, as if nobody else had ever been there at all.
My voice sounding terribly hoarse, I called out a name but no response ever came.
Slowly, downwards, I slid to the floor. Just like the tears that wouldn’t stop falling.
On that day, I cried more than I’d ever cried in my entire life.
I had thought that there was no way I could stand to keep living in this apartment. It had only been for a short period of half a year, but any place I stood drew up memories of the time we lived together—the doorway where I first found him, the hallway where he would send me off to work with a hug, the kitchen where he always stood, the shower where he drenched and stripped me, the sofa where he would lazily pass the time watching his housewife tv shows, and the bed where he would always be lying beside me the moment I woke up in the mornings.
My mood sank even lower when I realized that all of the things meant for two people now had to go back to being just for one.
Nevertheless, time moved on as it always did, and each day bled into the other in a never-ending cycle of dragging myself back and forth between the apartment and the office. My job became my refuge; to distract myself from the memories, I began to spend less and less time at home and sank deeper into work. My face, which never had that much expression in the first place, hardened into a cold block of stone.
Mita asked me to go out drinking countless times, perhaps out of worry, but I just simply couldn’t will up any enthusiasm to ‘have some fun’ so I ended up rejecting him every time.
It had been the peak of summer, and then the seasons changed to fall, then winter.
When I’d decided that I’d had enough of it and that I should forget him, I took out his belongings—the clothes we bought together for him, and even that cup we made a detour for after he looked at it at the apartment store display with such fervent eyes, but when it was time to haul and throw them all away, I found myself incapable of moving an inch.
I was obviously able to endure seeing him weep in front of me, and yet…now that he was gone, I couldn’t keep it together when I thought about how all that was left of him was only these. I couldn’t do it. Just looking at them made me so miserable I wanted to get them out of my sight for good, but my gut was telling me that I would absolutely regret it if I did.
It was the same for the apartment itself, and that was why I couldn’t move out, even now. I really… loved him. There wasn’t anyone else that I could love as much as I loved him.
Somewhere along the way, the sadness dissolved into nothing until only a gaping hole inside of me remained.
Half a year was still not long enough for me to get rid of this habit, so only silence greeted me back as I spoke to an empty, dark room.
I locked the door, took off my shoes, turned on the light for the hall, then went inside my apartment. The evening new program was talking about the economic effects of Valentines when I turned the TV on.
Oh, that’s right…It’s already February, isn’t it… I didn’t go back to my parents’ house this year for the holidays, and I had shut myself in for the end of last year and the beginning of the new year, so I suppose my awareness of the date had grown dull.
My body felt so exhausted that I didn’t even have the energy to eat a meal, so I tossed the convenience store bento I’d just bought over onto the table—my bag, my coat, and my suit jacket following after. My body I threw onto the sofa, which was then promptly assaulted by a sudden bout of drowsiness. Letting out a yawn I couldn’t stifle, I loosened my tie while my eyes closed just a bit…and my consciousness sank into oblivion.
There was that voice I recalled from my memories, and my body was gently shaken. I want to keep sleeping, though… I turned over, clearly communicating to leave me alone, but I was shaken again. Annoyed by that persistent disturbance, I cracked my eyes open, and in front of me was an unbelievable sight.
“Azusa, you’ll catch a cold in a place like this.”
I rubbed at my eyes, obviously seeing things, but when I looked up again—there he still was. Ilias, kneeling in front of me and wearing the same outfit he had when we were separated, though his hair looked much longer than before.
So I’ve finally hit the point where I’m seeing hallucinations…Shit.
The Ilias that had been cooked up by my delusions caressed my cheek with so much love and tenderness in his touch, though my face was still a frozen block of ice after withdrawing into myself for so long.
“You’ve lost so much weight… The bags beneath your eyes are terrible. I’m sorry to have kept you waiting for such a long time…”
I tried calling out his name without knowing why, and he replied, “What is it?”
Is it really…?
It really was him.
But why—why would he be here…?
“Azusa, I just have one thing I wanted to ask. The words you spoke during the teleportation, do you still mean them, even now?”
“The words I spoke…?”
“ ‘Take me with you’, was what you told to me.”
I yelled them while crying wretchedly, I recalled. That’s right, I’d said that when I saw him fading away.
Rather than leaving me behind by myself, I wanted him to bring me with him—but such a thing just wasn’t possible, I knew, so I no longer cared about anything and lived as if I were dead…but if he’s saying that he can make it happen, then there was absolutely nothing in this world I wanted more than to go with him.
He waited patiently as I sifted through my emotions, looking steadily at me with a serious look on his face. When I finally told him that my feelings hadn’t changed, his expression immediately changed, and—
With no explanation whatsoever, I was asked to give my left hand which I reflexively presented palms up. He flipped it around, then took out from his pocket something with a dull, silver glint under the lights. As he slipped it onto my ring finger, all thoughts that had been circulating in my head halted to a complete stop.
“The arrangements took a while, but I finally came back. Azusa, let’s get married.”
It was a sweeter voice than I’d ever heard. Something seemed to overflow inside me; my throat had clogged up and my voice wouldn’t come out, so I wordlessly nodded my head up and down countless times. Tears started to come out at some point.
Ilias exhaled as if relieved by my answer, and as he smiled, wiped away my tears and said, “Thank you.”
“I had decided that I absolutely wanted to propose the way that it is done in your world. That I let you feel such loneliness during this half a year, I apologize.”
“For—for real…! You’re… damn late…!”
“It was my wrong. From here on, I’ll never let you experience such a feeling again. Though even if you were to say no, I don’t think I would be capable of letting you go.”
He captured me with a mischievous smile, and I wound up smiling, too. At that moment, the magical formation that I had seen on that day suddenly appeared beneath our feet. Unlike before, I felt the wind stirring beneath my feet as well, for this time I was within the circle.
“It’s time. Azusa, let’s make the leap.”
“Thi—this, what am I supposed to be doing…?!”
“It’s alright, just hold on to me.”
I was about to stand when he picked me up into his arms. Startled, I clung to Ilias who then turned to me with a satisfied smile.
“Thank you, Azusa. I will absolutely make you happy.”
He vowed with such a bright smile, looking the happiest that I’ve ever seen him. This guy really loved me that much, though I also shared that same lovesickness.
“What’re you saying—I’ll be the one who’s going to make you happy, Ilias.”
He looked stumped with my reply, before bursting out laughing. ‘Excuse me, what the hell’s so funny?!’ I said, but it didn’t have any weight since I was laughing right along with him.
Aah, really…All it takes to make me happy is just being with him.
It was worth waiting half a year.
As the light around us devoured the familiar surroundings in sight, Ilias who was holding on to me remained clearly visible. I understood right then how it meant that I’d be able to stay with him from here on after. Though I felt some loneliness over leaving this world in which I had lived until now, I couldn’t help but look forward to the extraordinary future waiting for me. There, I’d be staying at the side of the person I love—there was really nothing greater than that.
I had picked up a strange knight, and now I was going to another world to marry him.
This is the final chapter of PSK’s main story. Thanks to everyone for reading Taro-sensei’s amazing story, and thanks for your patience!
Make sure to continue reading chapter 20, the first omake! I’ll be releasing the second omake and the first chapter of the sequel sometime in the future. Please look forward to it!