Chapter 5:

With a Love Sorceress, I’ll Have a First Date Twice!

With a Love Sorceress I'll Make My Romance Last!

My heart beat loudly in my ears as I walked through the unfamiliar village, taking in its rustic construction. A nearby cottage was held up by uneven brickwork, with what looked like packed hay for a roof. Even if I tried to lie to myself and pretend I was somewhere in Japan’s countryside, it wouldn’t look like this. A windmill churned in the distance, making me think of all my world history classes. Maybe I was in Holland? Did Holland even exist anymore? Was that a thing?

I gulped down a breath, holding my frantic heart. It didn’t matter how much I lied to myself. This clearly wasn’t Earth. I really was in another world.

And escaping into my mind wouldn’t help me now.

Yesterday, after leaving Madam Claire’s hut, I desperately tried to cram books of information into my mind. Details like currency, ruling class, magical races, and etiquette were thrown at me all at once. I studied like it was university entrance exams all over again, and now had a rather incomplete understanding of this Kingdom. This world was known as Farelle, and I was in the small farming village of Rivasvale in the Kingdom of Oras.

But none of that really mattered. I couldn’t pay attention to the words, because I was too distracted by the thought that I’d have to ask out Mia for the first time. Again. Sort of.

Firstly, I needed to apologize for my sudden marriage proposal. Then, I needed to suggest something new, something smaller, so Mia and I could get to know each other better.

You’ve asked Amamiya out before, right?” Madam Claire said last evening before she left. “It worked then. Try something similar now.”

But that was easier said than done.

Now, today, I stood in the afternoon sun, slumped against the village’s bulletin board, letting out the longest sigh of my life. Asking Amamiya out the first time had been hard enough. And I was still reeling from the heartbreak of her breaking up with me.

I glanced over the bulletin board to distract myself. Despite the words being written in foreign letters, I could innately understand their meaning. Madam Claire must have gifted me some knowledge of language when she brought me into this world, because I could both speak and read their words easily.

If that was true though, why did Claire ask me if I would be willing to learn Amamiya’s language? I still didn’t know.

Vaguely, I read over the bulletin board, wondering if any of the listings would help me with a date idea. One notice was a farmer requesting help with his harvest. Another was about a lost dog toy. Finally, there was an advertisement for some kind of theater in the next town over. I sighed again.

“Roki!” a bird chirped into my ear, pulling me out of my thoughts. “Focus, would you?”

I practically jumped out of my skin. Panicking, I leapt away from the board and put up my fists, prepared to fight the talking feathered beast.

Then I blinked, and realized this strange bird was rather...cute. It had a purple witch hat on its head.

“Claire?” I guessed, easing my stance.

The bird hopped from the board post and onto my shoulder.

“That’s Madam Claire to you,” the bird corrected. “With how terrified you looked when you left your cottage, I decided to tag along.” She puffed herself upright. “Good thing too! You probably would’ve been staring at this bulletin board all day if I hadn’t said something.”

“You can turn into a bird?” I asked, amazed.

“It’s a familiar of mine made of shadows,” Claire said with an elegant flutter of her wings. “Through this, we can communicate. Though I warn you, no one else can see me.”

At that moment, a mother and child walked by carrying buckets of water. They gave me a wide stare.

“Mama?” the child asked. “Why is the elf-man yelling at the town board?”

The mother shuffled her child forward and gave me a polite nod. I hung my head and wondered how many strange rumors about the ‘village elf’ were spreading already.

“Alright,” I quietly whispered to the Claire-bird on my shoulder. “You can come with me, but don’t talk too much. I don’t want Mia to think I’m crazy.”

Inwardly, part of me had been hoping to avoid the whole thing. Now, with Claire watching, I had no escape. Excuses like ‘Mia wasn’t home’ wouldn’t work. Biting down my hesitations, I marched towards Mia’s household.

I crossed the wooden gate and leapt up the porch steps to her home. The lake air was as fine as ever. I took in a deep breath.

My hand hesitated before the door. I wanted to knock. I needed to knock. It was just one simple motion, but I couldn’t do it. The sight of Amamiya in tears, throwing flowers into my face, kept me paralyzed. Could I stand that rejection a second time?

“Mister elf?” Mia’s voice floated over.

From the nearby bushes, Mia rose her head. She wore a sunhat and gloves, a pair of rusted trimmers in her hands. Her trousers were worn, patched holes showing at the knees. She brushed the sweat from her brow and stared at me quizzically.

Covered in dirt though she was, I felt my heart race. It was now or never.

“Please forgive me!” were the first words out of my mouth. I threw myself against the ground in the deepest bow of forgiveness I could possibly muster.

I felt a pecking pain in my shoulder. “Roki!” Claire whispered worriedly. “Prostrating yourself like that doesn’t mean anything here! Stand up and lower your head instead!”

Instantly, I shot to my feet, determined not to embarrass myself further. I kept my gaze downcast, hoping that would mean the right thing in this world.

But then, Mia...laughed?

She tried to hide it, but her laughter kept bursting out.

“I-I’m sorry!” Mia said through her chuckling. “It’s just, I can’t believe an elf is here, for me! And you keep just...proposing and leaping onto the ground! You are so strange!”

I rubbed the back of my head, not sure if her laughter was a good thing or not. All I could do was politely join in, and hope she wasn’t mad at me.

Eventually, her laughter eased, and Mia smiled.

“Mister elf,” she addressed, “It’s every little girl’s dream to marry an elf and be whisked away to the Grand Forests. But I know you have the wrong person. My name isn’t Amamiya, and I’m…” Mia glanced away, a hint of sorrow in her smile. “I’m not that lucky.”

I felt something pulse in my own chest, a defiance that wanted to take away the sadness in Mia’s voice. Without thinking, I reached out and grabbed her gloved hands.

“You are that lucky!” I affirmed. Then, realizing what I was doing, I let go and took a step back, trying again. “I came here today to apologize for my proposal.”

Mia’s shoulders fell. “I knew it,” she mumbled under her breath.

“Instead!” I followed loudly. “I wanted to ask you on...on…on a—” My nerves rose.

And at that moment, Claire's familiar chomped its beak down onto my ear.

“ON A DATE!!” I shouted through the pain.

Mia had a stunned moment of silence. “Me?” She pointed to her torn clothes and sweaty appearance. “But I’m just a farmer’s daughter. I’m a nobody.”

I held my stinging ear, biting back tears. “You’re somebody to me, Mia, and I want to get to know you better.” I took in a jagged breath. “S-so, to that end, would you go on a date with me?”

I offered out my too-slender hand — the hand of an elf.

Part of me wondered if I was lying to Mia, asking her out with this appearance. I wasn’t really an elf. This wasn’t really me.

But when she nervously reached out and slid her hand into mine, those concerns vanished.

“Sure,” Mia nodded, her cheeks turning slightly pink. “If it’s just one date to get to know each other, I don’t mind.”

Right then, I could have died a happy man. I heard the bells of heaven ring, I could see those pearly gates.

“Where should we go?” Mia asked, grounding me back to reality.

I had expected her to shoot me down outright. I didn’t actually have a plan for what to do if she said yes.

“Uh, well, that is, um,” I turned to Claire for help, but she was silent. In my flustered state, I remembered the bulletin board. “The theater! They said there’s a play in the next town over! Why don’t we go there?”

A play was the closest thing this world had to a movie. Considering Amamiya and I went to a movie on our first date, wasn’t this perfect?

“Oh.” Mia’s expression dropped. She put on a strained smile. “I suppose, Mister elf, if that’s what you want.”

Unbidden, a memory flashed through my mind.

It was when I first asked out Amamiya. She was dressed in her work clothes, standing on the sidewalk, looking back at me.

A movie?” Amamiya frowned, but forced a smile. “I suppose, Hiroyuki-kun, if that’s what you want.”

Why would I remember that now?

Why was this happening again?