Chapter 6 : A new beginning
They reached Galuna river after a scenic cycling journey. Putting their bicycles beside an oak tree, they got into a wooden boat that was situated at the riverbank. Jellal cast a spell on the boat so it would be sturdy and wouldn’t break so easily. Hyusune hopped into the boat, and Jellal started rowing it. But after a while the current was strong enough to push the boat forward, so Jellal stopped rowing. The river was situated between two rows of trees adorned with flowers. As a gentle breeze caressed by, some flowers flew in the wind as the boat went by. Hyusune was admiring the scenic view before her. “This is so pretty…” She smiled. ‘Well, this is the most I can do for you…to stop you from falling to the dark side…’ Jellal thought as he took out his tumbler and drank some water.
“How did you even find this place? It’s amazing…” Hyusune exclaimed.
“Shiromi Misako.” Jellal replied. “She brought me here before.” He said in a cold voice.
” Misako? Why…?” Hyusune asked, curiously.
“She’s my cousin……” Jellal’s eyes darted away.
“COUSIN?” Hyusune was shocked.
“Yeah…and she’s not the kind of cousin I’d like to have.” He muttered.
“Why?” Hyusune asked.
“Mind your own business. ” He said, annoyed by her questions. In the past, Misako used to court Jellal even though they were cousins, but apparently Jellal hated her for being such a clinger.
“Pfft…” Hyusune turned away. ‘You started this anyway, and now what’s with the attitude?’ Suddenly, the boat moved so quickly with the strong current that Hyusune jerked forward and knocked into Jellal. It was completely awkward as it seemed as though she was pinning him. Taken by surprise, Jellal couldn’t act. Hyusune kept herself above him. They stayed like that for a while, before Hyusune moved away. “Sorry…my klutziness as usual…” She sat away from him and avoided eye contact. Her cheeks were red and flustered and letting Jellal see her in such a state would definitely destroy her image she left on him.
Jellal, on the other hand, had never felt something like this before. She was different—the way she carried herself…she wasn’t like the other girls at school. In that situation, most of the girls in the school would have taken the opportunity to kiss, but Hyusune just darted away and apologized for her clumsiness.
When they got to the foot of the river, they hopped off the boat and sat on the grass beside the river. Hyusune sat under a tree beside Jellal. His stomach growled and she stared at him. “Want a cake?” She asked. “Mhmm…” He said. Hyusune took out some cake she made in her free time and gave it to Jellal. Then, she took off her sneakers and walked to the river.
“What are you doing?” He asked, munching down on the cake.
“I’m going to soak my legs, see?” She pointed to the shallow water. “There’s no leeches in the water because its been treated and its absolutely free of bacteria due to anti-bacteria magic. “
“Oh.” He replied simply, as he walked over and sat beside her. She took a bite of her cake, and moved her legs to and fro in the water, creating ripples across the water surface.
“About what I’d said earlier…I apologize for being so rude…” Jellal began.
“Don’t bother about that…It was my bad for asking so many questions. I apologize for being a henpeck*.” (note : henpeck is used only when a wife is nagging at her husband)
Jellal’s eyes widened and he stared at her.
“What’s wrong?” asked Hyusune in bewilderment. “Did I say something I wasn’t supposed to?”
“Erm no…nevermind…” Jellal swallowed hard. Hyusune had no realized that her choice of words was completely incorrect and thus led Jellal to actually think that she perceived their relationship like husband and wife.
“About a year ago, Shiromi confessed to me. I had rudely turned her down saying that we were cousins, so it was wrong. I didn’t like her at all. ” Jellal began suddenly as he took his second piece of cake. “She was clingy, desperate…it seemed all so creepy. She wasn’t my type. She wouldn’t let go. I was getting really pissed off by her annoying and disturbing attitude. Then one day she let go…the day my happiness was sure to come, when I would top the cohort…but she ended up topping the cohort by underhand means. That was completely unforgivable. “
“I see…” Hyusune said. That reminded her of someone in her patisserie school. “When I was in patisserie school, there was a classmate of mine whom I detested too. His name was Tsuki Nagasaki…He always tried to win me but to no avail. So he cheated by buying in the examiner with money because he was from a rich family…I was given the second place in the cohort after him, even though his cake was lacking unlike mine.”
‘Lacking? What does she mean by lacking?’ Jellal thought.
‘He lacked love, ‘ thought Hyusune, ‘and so do I, now…’
To lighten up the dull mood, Jellal suggested, “How about we go for a swim?”
Hyusune’s eyes widened. “Are you nuts? I don’t have a change of clothes…” She complained.
“Just strip off your shirt and pants. You can dry them with magic later.”
“Fine.” She muttered. “Just don’t look at me, okay?”
He turned his back on her. “Ok, I’m not looking.” Hyusune looked behind her. He wasn’t looking at all. She took off her shorts and her shirt, and went into the river. “Okay, I’m done. ” Jellal took off his shirt in front of her and she blushed wildly. He had a masculine figure. She turned away and started swimming. She felt so free—a kind of freedom she’d never experienced when living with her stepmother in town. Jellal was glad he could save her from the clutches of darkness.
Seeing her smile lightened up his mood a bit. It reminded him of sister, who bore a similar name—Hatsune. But Hatsune was captured by Daemon and killed when Jellal and her went to the city for an outing. Hatsune was his only sister, and they were twins. Since her death Jellal vowed that he would kill Daemon and hate anyone who hated Hatsune. Now that Hyusune appeared before him, he was reminded of his sister yet again…He moved his legs in the water while leaning against the riverbed side, while Hyusune was thrashing about in the water. After a while Hyusune got tired and swam to the bank.
“That was refreshing…” She said, but stopped shortly when she noticed Jellal wasn’t in a good mood.
“Jellal?” She waved her hand in front of him and knocked him out of his daze.
“Oh…you’re done swimming?” He asked.
“Um yeah…” She said.
The both of them stared up at the clouds in the sky, neither speaking a word.
The clouds flew by as the breeze blew them.
Hyusune and Jellal just waved their legs in the water.
“Hyusune, can I ask you of a favour?”
“Yes, as long as its not so complicated, I suppose.”
“Can you pretend to be my sister from now on?”
“Yes…I know it’s troublesome but…”
Hyusune understood what he meant.
“Mhmm…It’s completely fine with me.”
“I see…” He said, and he held her hand.
Hyusune’s heart skipped a beat. She remembered that his sister’s name was Hatsune and that she had passed away several years back. Jellal loved his sister Hatsune a lot, and he would never let anyone hurt her.
They used magic to dry their clothes and went back to the hostel. By then it was afternoon and they had lunch together.
Now, she had to try and be in the shoes of Hatsune. But what was it going to be like, being someone whom she wasn’t, and being someone different?