The Consequence of Saving the World
It’s been a long time since I felt like a child again. In a matter of hours, I’ll be heading back to my home. Not counting the years Hanasuke was using my body, it has only been half a month since I remember being in Breven, but it felt like ages.
Looking back, it was really dumb of me to think that I was actually cut out for this Hero business. Not all the Seven Heroes showed up for the Seven Heroes Summit anyways. I could just hole up in Breven and go back to worrying about livestock getting sick or the rainy season. At least my life wasn’t at stake.
My biggest source of happiness, as well as the reason for my restlessness, was Sereya. How would mum, Eveline and the others react if they saw me bringing a girl back with me? She may be a dork at times, but underneath that was a caring, reliable, yet lonely girl. Hopefully, no one would mind that she was one of the few who helped to bring down the Demon Lord.
Hey ma! This is Sereya, she’s one of the Seven Heroes and I’d like your blessing to marry her!
Ah yes, I have discovered a recipe for disaster.
No use worrying about it. The only thing I should worry about was how to make myself fall asleep. It would take like a week to travel to Breven, and I’d hate to have my first day going off on a rocky start.
When I came to, a familiar warmth was gently playing with my hair. I didn’t need to open my eyes to find out who it was. The temptation to fake being asleep was strong, simply because of how nice it felt.
I turned to my side. I could feel her hand immediately jolting back, worried that she’d wake me up. It was fun messing with her.
“I know you’re awake,” she whispered right into my ear. Her breathy voice electrified me, vanquishing any sleepiness left inside. My body sprang up like a jack-in-the-box and I found myself sitting upright on my bed.
“You’re too easy, Evan. I know all your weaknesses.”
Hearing those words was annoying, but I decided to let that smug smile linger on her face.
“What if I was really sleeping? You know I get pretty grumpy when people wake me up, right?”
“It’s easy to tell when you’re awake. If your heart beats faster when I’m playing with your hair, that means you’re up.”
I instinctively recoiled when I heard the word “heartbeat”.
“No no! I don’t mean it like I’m a creep or something!” she frantically waved her hand as if to dispel that notion, “Ahem, thanks to my training, all my senses are heightened. I could hear even the faintest of sounds—like a heartbeat. It wasn’t like I was purposely trying to hear your heartbeat or anything, I just can, okay?”
“Yeah of course you do. Thanks to your training, you snuck in here without any of the nurses realising, didn’t you?”
Sereya gasped, “H-How did you know?!”
I didn’t have her superhuman perception, but even I could smell the sinful breakfast she prepared for me.
I pointed at the paper bag on the table beside my bed, “You think the nurses would let something like that in?”
“Oops. Guess I got found out, hehe.”
She reached into the bag, took out a small container and placed it on my lap. As she opened the lid the scent immediately grew stronger, instantly making me hungry. She scooped up some of the rice, egg roll, and a little bit of the chicken before blowing on the spoon. It probably wasn’t that hot—she was just hunting for affection at this point.
“I can feed myself, you know.”
“I know,” she said as she ignored my words and continued to blow on the food. It wasn’t that she didn’t want me to feed myself, she just loved feeding me more.
As the spoonful of Sereya’s homemade food came closer and closer to my mouth, I opened wide and took a bite.
“How does it taste?”
Patience, child. I could only chew or talk, but not at the same time, and I chose the former.
As I wordlessly munched, a wave of emotion hit me out of nowhere. The food tasted good, but I felt bad. I felt bad because I didn’t know what I did to deserve Sereya. During these entire two weeks, she visited me every day, spent time with me and cared for me unconditionally. This wasn’t her duty as one of her Seven Heroes. I have only known her for less than a month and here she was, bringing me food that she prepared in spite of her disability.
Even after the trouble I caused, she got angry with me out of concern for my own well-being, not hers. It was unfair. My entire existence was unfair for her, and yet she continued to sacrifice herself for me.
“Evan, what’s wrong? Is it that bad?”
That was when I realised the tears streaming down my face. Evan, you fool, now you’re making her feel bad, too.
“No, it’s great! It’s just—” I quickly wiped the tears with my hands, “I was just thinking of something else, that’s all.”
“Which is?” that wasn’t her being nosy, it was her being concerned again.
“Evan, you’d promised you’ll talk to me.”
“—If I was going to do something stupid, which I’m not.”
Sereya didn’t have a comeback. Instead, she resorted to a painfully sharp glare. I could understand where she was coming from. Swap the roles around, and I’d probably do the same to her.
A sigh escaped my mouth. As my mind revisited the thought from earlier, I felt the floodgates in my eyes open.
“Why are you so nice to me?”
Sereya was stunned at first. I could see her forming an answer in her brain. Once she found it, a gentle smile formed on her face. Instead of saying anything, she set the food down next to her.
As she adjusted her hair, she leaned in close to me as her lips touched mine.
The world felt like it was melting away for me at that moment. My concerns, my worries, my guilt—all of it felt so shallow compared to what I was feeling. Her kiss wasn’t forceful, neither was it particularly sensual. It reflected her true self—gentle, yet vulnerable.
We allowed the moment to stay just a little bit longer.
As she pulled back, our eyes were still drawn to each other. She was the first to break the silence.
“Does that answer your question?”
I had no comeback to that.
She proceeded to feed me as I surrendered myself to her care. It was strange. The food was delicious before, but it tasted even better after that kiss.
I realised that worrying about myself, if I was worthy or deserving of her love, was pretty dumb. Maybe that’s why they called it unconditional love. There was nothing more to it. You just love someone so much that it seemed ridiculous not to care for the person.
I wasn’t the ideal guy that she wanted. I wasn’t Hanasuke. Even then, she accepted me, in all my weaknesses and shortcomings. Was there feelings from her past towards him that she mixed up towards me? Probably, but that didn’t matter.
What mattered was for me to grant her the happiness that she wanted. Not as compensation for what she has done for me, but because that was what I wanted to do for her too, from the bottom of my heart.
It was funny how I overthink things sometimes. Yet, I was glad that she didn’t mind it too much.
Before I knew it, the container she held in her hands was empty. A satisfied expression graced her face. I guessed there shouldn’t be a problem if I stroked her ego a bit.
“Where did you learn to cook that well?”
Once again, she was in deep thought. Rubbing her chin, her eyes told me that she was searching for a specific memory.
“You won’t remember this, but it was yo—I mean, Hanasuke, who taught me. Funnily enough, my cooking was horrible and everyone but me thought that it was poison. Even then, he willingly became my guinea pig, tasting my cooking and teaching me how he did it back in his world. I still remember how everyone had their minds blown after they tasted my new and improved cooking,” she laughed.
“I see. Please continue to blow my mind with your cooking when we’re in Breven then.”
“You’re lying. It’s good, but it wasn’t that good.”
An evil smile formed on my lips, “It did, especially after that kiss.”
Just as planned, her complexion burned with a bright red. Seeing her this flustered once in a while was a great reward for me. Cute sounds escaped her mouth as she failed to form a coherent sentence.
“T-That’s all for breakfast! I’ll have to make a move now to p-prep some stuff before we leave. D-Don’t you even think about not leaving on t-time!”
“Roger that, chief.”
As she left, I sat on my bed, thinking how unbelievably lucky I was to have met her.