“Wakaba, what are you doing?!”
Father and the nanny, who heard the commotion and came running, they held the twins in their arms, and I was roughly grabbed by the arm and led away from the room.
I was taken to my father’s room in a daze, having seen what happens to an alpha who loses his fated pair.
He was very angry with me for carelessly approaching Raizo-san’s room and for letting the twins see their father like that.
“You know why I told you to stay away from that room, don’t you?”
I was so shocked I couldn’t even look up.
I didn’t understand anything.
I listened to the stories I was told every time my birthday came around as if they were made up, as if they were ‘exaggerated’, but they were my mother’s true feelings.
If I had lost my father at the time of my birth, my mother might have become like Raizo-san.
When I thought of that, my body trembled with fear.
“I forbid you to go to that room because I couldn’t let the children, who had just lost their mother, see Raizo-san in that state. And yet, Wakaba had let the twins get too close. Things have finally calmed down, but what are you going to do if he relapses again? Can Wakaba take that responsibility?”
I was totally out of sorts.
I chose to let the children see their father partly because I had been so pleased that the twins, who although missed their father had opened up to me, and partly because I had been so proud that I wanted to do something to them as if I were their older brother.
I should have thought better of it. There’s no way my mother and father would have asked to make a meaningless promise.
“Don’t go near Raizo-san’s room.”
These words were for Raizo-san’s sake, for my sake and for the twins’ sake.
Just as my parents feared, the twins’ cries could be heard from far away. It’s like I’ve gone backwards to the time when they had just came to this house.
Besides, they were scared of the sight of Raizo-san, too.
I longed for my fated pair. I always wished I could be like my parents one day. But when I witnessed what happens to people when they mourn the destiny they have obtained, I thought of how cruel it is.
Joy and lamentation exist side by side, and you never know when they will turn over. If you don’t know joy, you can live without it, but once you have it, you can’t live without mourning.
A fated pair was that strong and cruel.
“But we’re sorry, too. We should have explained it properly to Wakaba.”
I exhaled, and my father stroked my head. The warm touch of his palm made my eyes burn. I have never felt happier than today that this warmth exists.
I’m glad Dad is alive. I am happy now that my mother is smiling beside him.
As I once again felt my own happiness, I was reminded undeniably of the twins’ crying faces. No one can reverse the loss of their mother, but they thankfully still have Raizo-san.
I wonder if there is anything I can do to help them laugh with Raizo-san in the future.
This time, I was serious, not just getting carried away, not just trying to feel good about myself, but seriously thinking about it as I spoke up.
“I have a favor to ask of Dad.”
Six months have passed since Raizo-san came to our house. The season has changed from autumn to winter, and the cold days continue. It has been a difficult season for Raizo-san, whose physical strength has been weakening.
To avoid infecting the twins and Raizo-san with a cold, I wash my hands and gargle carefully when I return home from school, change my clothes and disinfect my hands with alcohol. I’m afraid of pneumonia and influenza at this time of year.
Since that day, I got permission from my parents to visit Raizo-san when he was feeling well and report on the twins’ well-being.
I thought that Raizo-san would be worried about the twins during his rest, and I hoped that hearing about his young children would encourage him to persevere and choose to live.
When I first started going to see him, Raizo-san would only give me short answers.
I didn’t want to tire him out too much, so at first he only gave me 10 minutes of his time and I just talked one-sidedly about what the twins did that day, what they ate for snacks and other such trivial things, but gradually Raizo-san started asking me more questions about the twins’ condition and asking me about their favorite food.
In the meantime, the amount of food he ate increased and the number of times he vomited it back decreased, and when his voice, which had been hoarse due to his throat damaged by gastric juices, regained its lustrous baritone voice, he was finally able to visit the twins.
“Raizo-san, are you cold?”
“Thanks, I’m fine.”
I put a blanket on Raizo’s shoulders as he sat up. The news said it was going to be even colder today.
The twins were playing with the building blocks of my childhood. They were laughing and giggling as they piled them up as tall as they could and then broke them down with a clang.
I heard that I used to play the same way, but I don’t remember much. Children tend to be busy laughing, getting angry and crying over nothing.
It was when I was having a whispered conversation with Raizo-san while thinking about these things that it happened without warning.
My heart was pounding and my skin felt warm. The sensation of being invaded by something that welled up from deep inside me to the point made me feel suffocated.