A Strong Person (Finne’s Side)
“Honestly, you’re amazing. I was stunned by just how quickly you kicked His Excellency, and before I could even understand what was happening, the next thing I felt was the pain. Not even Liese could have pulled off such an excellent move. It was really so amazing…”
I thought wrong.
After we left the Marquis’ office and making our way through the vast maze of a royal palace, without anything else bad happening (apparently no one noticed I attacked both the general and a knight’s apprentice) we managed to reach the carriage, and I finally felt a sense of relief wash over me.
That was when Bard-senpai began to excitedly praise my punch.
Even if he tells me that I was more excellent than my dear Liselotte Onee-sama at something, it doesn’t really make me happy if it’s just about fighting.
Despite how unenthusiastic I sounded, Bard-senpai’s eyes still looked lit up passionately as he kept praising how strong he thought I was.
Well, he is a Riefenstahl after all, and they’re all about brawn over brains.
Actually, didn’t Onee-sama say something about everyone in the family being muscleheads before…?
What’s worse, the Gods have been annoyingly whispering in my ear 『An M?』『Is he really an M?』this whole time. That’s not it. It isn’t anything perverted, he’s just admiring a fellow warrior’s strength. I think. At least, that’s what I want to believe, and I really don’t have the guts to ask him otherwise.
“Honestly, Finne, you really are the greatest. You’re the cutest. And despite being so cute, you’re also so strong. I’m falling in love all over again. I love you, Finne.”
Whilst I was distracted by my thoughts and the God’s constant whispering, Bard-senpai seemed to have gone somewhere strange as he took my right hand which had uppercut him so hard only a little while ago, and laid a kiss on it.
But being told ‘I love you’ like that doesn’t make me happy, at least not right now…
Usually, when someone kissed the back of another person’s hand like that with so much love and so suddenly, it should make your heart skip a beat…
But right now, all I can think about is how unclear our relationship was, so I shifted awkwardly.
“‘I love you’… I’m sorry, that’s still not something I can say back to you yet…”
When I bowed my head to him sadly, Bard-senpai quickly shook his head.
“So long as you do not hate me, then I am happy. But, isn’t it at least past time where you can drop the formalities, though…?”
“No, well, Bard-senpai is still… That’s right, Onee-sama and the Crown Prince are still formal with each other despite being engaged, aren’t they?”
At least, when I saw them together at school, they always had a sense of distance between each other. In fact, maybe I’m being too selfish?
Bard-senpai is always trying to close the distance between us, as I try to keep him at bay. How many times must they have seen us go through this song and dance since we started being together like this?
“It can’t be helped because of their positions, but speaking of positions, as the future head of the household you are above me, Finne. Not to mention, both His Highness and myself have lost to you in combat as well…”
These Riefenstahls really are all muscleheads. Are they a pack of wild animals or something?
But, even if he tells me that I’m strong…
“The truth is, honestly, I… I’m not that happy about being strong.”
When I finally told him that, Bard-senpai looked at me like he didn’t understand.
“But, if I lost a fight, I’d die. So, I got stronger. That’s the only reason. To become the ‘strongest’ or for any other reason, I never thought about anything like that at all. I just thought there were things in my way, things that almost killed me, so I struggled for my life in such an ugly way, spitting blood and breaking bones… Before I knew it, I was strong, but it’s nothing to be proud about.”
Listening to my words tinged with self-loathing, Bard-senpai looked troubled. It looks like he’s lost in thought.
In the first place, even the way I fight is ugly.
All I do is rely on shock. I just strengthen my body and try to attack a weak point. The reason I don’t use any weapons is that I don’t even know how to use them.
An ugly way of killing, no better to what you’d see street gangs or wild animals use. That’s how I fight.
But when I’m in the thick of a fight, my head goes blank because it feels so good… That’s why I’m probably not even fit to ever be a noble girl… Compared to how ‘authentic’ Onee-sama is, whenever I think about never being able to be like her, it makes me sad.
“…Understood. I’ll become strong enough that you never have to raise a fist again, Finne.”
There was something so earnest in his words that it wiped my thoughts clean away.
“I’ll become stronger than you, Finne. If that’s truly not what you want to be, then I’ll be strong in your place.”
A person who was stronger than me. A person who wouldn’t die. A person who wouldn’t lose.
A person strong enough to overcome fate. Is that it?
When I listened to Bard-senpai’s words, I suddenly understood what I had wanted.
Ah, so that’s it.
The person I love, I always wanted them to be strong.
So, that’s why I never truly liked my own strength. I was sad that I never met anyone stronger than myself.
“If I can truly become stronger than you, if I can do that, then when that day comes… I want you to marry me.”
As I sat there in stunned silence, as I received the answer to a question I didn’t even know I was asking, Bard-senpai kept speaking.
“Riefenstahl or not, it doesn’t matter to me. Even if I had to abandon the house and my family to become an adventurer with you, I’d be happy. But, no matter what, I want you to see me as the only one who can stand by your side.”
Then, Bard-senpai turned my hand over in his and kissed my palm.
His hand, was it because of all his time using a sword? It was so big and rough. And, it was warm. A strong hand.
Wanting to believe in that hand, I looked up at him and slowly nodded, just once.
“Finne~, did you call that Bruno ‘father’~?”
I was so exhausted from both the trip to the royal palace and everything Bard-senpai put me through that I almost fell asleep on the sofa in my room, but that was before mama burst in without a single knock, a big smirk on her face.
Ever since she was taken into this house along with me, mama has really looked like a noble lady when she puts on her mask and wears those fine dresses. People would be shocked if they saw what she was really like.
“Ah… sorry. I should have told you too, mama. I know that my dad is my real papa, but, um…”
As I woke up with a start and tried to make excuses, mama coyly put a finger on my lips with a smile.
“It’s alright. I know. Even if you call Bruno your father, Finne, papa and mama won’t be mad, because papa will always be papa, right?”
That’s right. As much as I respect Lord Bruno as my adoptive father, I hoped that one day I could call out to him like a real father. That’s why, when God whispered in my ear to say it, I sort of blurted it out accidentally, but, one day I would really have to do something like that if I ever truly wanted to inherit this house, I thought.
But, it felt like I was betraying mama and papa by doing that so suddenly without even asking first. Like I was doing something sneaky, something I couldn’t just blame on the Gods.
“…Yeah. Papa is still an important family member to me, since you always talked about how kind he was, mama. But, his younger brother the Marquis is just as kind as you said dad was as well… And I think those two, um, they were very important to each other as well.”
As I struggled to put what I was feeling into words, mama simply smiled and nodded.
“Then, that’s fine. From now on, don’t coldly call him the Marquis and keep him at a distance, call him ‘father’ instead.”
Just as I felt a sense of relief at mama’s words, her mouth suddenly twisted into an evil looking grin again.
“But I have to say, that Bruno sure is fired up. After his cute little daughter came around to pester him, he’s been filled with motivation and is being even more strict on his poor subordinates… Or at least that’s what the report said~”
Hearing that, I wondered just who on earth that report had come from so quickly.
Was mother already using her mask as the fairy princess to get back in touch with her old contacts and make new ones in the royal palace? Had she already managed to infiltrate the knights, too? Or was she a real fairy princess, having fairies spy for her?
“…He might just be using this as an excuse to drill them more. No, it’s my fault either way.”
Every member of the Royal Knights, if the reason for your suffering is me kicking my father, then I’m sorry. As I said that gloomily, mama cocked her head to the side in confusion.
“Hm~? Well… In any case, if Liselotte can be protected, then isn’t everything fine?”
She’s right. Royal Knights, you’ll have to hang in there for now.
“It’s always important to be prepared. You can never be too prepared, you know! If there’s a crisis, you have to use everything you can.”
Nodding in agreement with mama’s words, I remembered that, no, we weren’t using everything yet.
“Mm… the Gods said that we should get Mister Leon to help as well, but they said Mister Leon is difficult so…”
Mister Leon had never given off the impression that he was strong, he just seems like a normal teacher.
He’s polite and his classes are easy to understand, but if you try to ask him any questions after the bell rings, he always slips away.
Mister Leon is always smiling as well, but… it’s hard to really tell what he’s feeling.
After telling mama the name of the person even the Gods thought was difficult, she looked puzzled again.
“Leon…? You mean Leon Schafe?”
Ah, right, right. That was his full name. But if you ever called him ‘Mister Schafe’, he would just ignore you.
When I nodded, mama suddenly had a strange look on her face as she opened her mouth.
“Hmm~? That kid, he’s a teacher now, huh?”
I looked at mama dubiously as she said that.
“You know him?”
Now that I think about it, I heard that Mister Leon was twenty-four years old. Sixteen years ago, when mama disappeared from the capital, he must have only been around eight years old. I wonder just how they knew each other… Wait, actually, mama should have been in her late teens back then, right? Just what were they to each other?
“Well, you see, your mama is a fairy princess, after all!”
But then, mama declared that boldly.
Fairy princess… Is she talking about something in high society? Maybe he and mother were friends?
“…You’re only a fairy princess when no one hears you talk, mama.”
That mama of mine who never told me her age looked surprised for a brief moment, before smiling at me so gently it could have been a smile from a little girl.
If this was my first time seeing her, I really would think she was a fairy princess.
Honestly… when mama wears a dress and puts on her mask, she’s really something else…
Extra Liselotte illustration from the novel (from a scene not in the WN) as apologies for going a little while without a chapter.