Chapter 12:

With a Love Sorceress, Dinner Will Be Awkward

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

Madam Claire’s bird stood at attention. “Childhood friend?” she repeated, her feathers ruffled. “You couldn’t mean...Toren?”

“Yes, Toren,” I replied, pointing towards the half-beast that was a good ways across the field. Madam Claire peaked over my shoulder, seeing Toren leap out of the horse-drawn cart.

Suddenly, Madam Claire’s bird disappeared in a puff of shadows. I blinked. Then, from a knot in the tree in front of me, Madam Claire’s elegant hand appeared. She pulled me into the tree, yelping, as I fell through the portal and stumbled into her realm — human and myself again.

Claire stood in front of me, her hazel eyes bewildered. I’d never seen her so frazzled.

“Are you sure it was him?” Claire asked, grabbing my shoulders. I nodded to hide my growing blush.

Why was it that whenever Claire was close to me, my heart just wouldn’t calm down?

Biting her lip, Madam Claire spun away. She paced back and forth, eventually standing before the center of her room. She waved her arms, and in response, the ceiling opened up: showing the dome of stars above.

But this time, there was a new addition. Beneath the dome, all the furniture flung aside. In its place, a stone basin filled with a pool of water slowly rose from the floor.

I walked closer to this pool, peering into its mirror-like surface. It smoothly reflected the stars in the dome above, almost like gazing into the night sky itself. I dipped my hand into the waters and watched how it left ripples on the surface, distorting the constellations.

Madam Claire then snapped her fingers. The pool’s surface shimmered, showing an image of busy city street. There, I saw Toren — but a human-like version of him — driving down the road in a postal truck. He stopped by a household and delivered the mail.

“Toru Ueno,” Claire explained, pointing to the man in the waters. “A post office worker. He and Miss Amamiya Inoue were friends in elementary school, but ended up moving away from each other. They met again later due to his delivery route passing her house, but by then, Miss Inoue was already dating you, Mister Hiroyuki, so Toru never tried anything.”

I chuckled nervously. “Oh...” So Toru had almost been my rival on Earth as well.

Claire dashed away the image, splashing the waters with an angry hand. “But here in Farelle, Mia and Toren weren’t supposed to meet yet! What happened?” The Love Sorceress turned on me. “You didn’t give Toren any money, did you?”

“Uh.” I hesitated. Nervously, I put up my guilty hands. “J-just a little? I figured a gold coin might raise suspicions, so I gave him a silver, because he got fired for my sake.”

Madam Claire let out a groan of frustration. “Of course, if he has enough money, he’d want to see Mia!” she exclaimed. She ruffled her strawberry blonde hair, trying to keep her composure. Then, she halted in place. Her eyes opened in realization.

“How did you meet?” Claire asked abruptly.

“In a tavern,” I answered honestly, “by chance. We happened to hear some ruffians bad-mouthing Mia, so we both leapt to action…”

Claire marched back over to the pool of water, gazing into the stars. “Of all the people, why would you meet him? It’s too much of a coincidence.” She bit onto one of her nails, frantically searching the stars, as though they could answer her. “It’s like the world is trying to right itself. But the world wouldn’t do that, it has no conscious will. It’s almost as if…” her voice trailed, dropping to a whisper, “...someone other than myself is trying to alter fate.”

She went silent and still, and so did the waters. I held my breath without even realizing.

“Alter fate?” I asked, breaking the silence.

“Exactly!” Claire affirmed, a mischievous little smile returning to her face. “It’s simple: we must put things back on our course! That is why, Roki-kun, you shall wear this outfit.”

Claire clapped her hands, and from one of her dressers, a drawer popped open. A fountain of clothes fell out (did I spy...something frilly in there?) before one outfit in particular hovered in the air. It was a nice button-down shirt and a pair of respectable slacks, tailored for a taller size. Nothing too fancy, but it wasn’t casual either.

Madam Claire’s eyes gleamed with a plan. “You best dress well,” she warned, “because I’ve arranged for you to have dinner at the Faralind household tonight.”


“So,” I began, clearing my throat, “how’s the weather?”

The uncomfortable air was palpable. Sitting in the rustic wooden household of the Faralind residence, Mia and her father Toma sat across from me. A dinner of roasted vegetables decorated the plates. None of us had touched the food.

Mister Faralind spoke first. “Wonderful! I couldn’t ask for a better weather for the orchard!” His forced smile gave away that he was trying too hard. “Do you like the meal? I heard elves don’t eat any meat, so I wasn’t certain what to cook.”

“This is fine,” I assured, taking a bite. It was incredibly bland. I would’ve loved some rice, and preferably a tub of garlic soy sauce to cover up the blandness, but it was edible enough.

Mister Faralind coughed, eying both Mia and myself. “So then,” the father murmured, “what season were you two thinking for your wedding ceremony? Autumn would be nice.”

I choked on a carrot. Mia stood up instantly, red in the face.

“Dad!” Mia cried. “We’ve only been on one date! I-I like Mister Roki,” Mia spared an embarrassed glance my way, “but marriage is a bit…”

I put down my napkin. “I agree, Mister Faralind,” I said as reasonably as I could. “My proposal was hasty, and I was confused. I’d like to do things in the proper order first.”

Mister Faralind let out a disappointed sigh. “I see, I see. I was just hoping.”

I held my chest, trying to calm down. Questions like that weren’t good for my heart.

Mia sat back down. The awkward silence returned.

Fidgeting in her seat, Mia nervously twiddled her thumbs and tapped her foot against the floor. She looked lovely tonight: wearing a blue dress that matched her eyes, with her short brown hair tied into a ponytail. But for how pretty she was, the strain in her expression spoke louder than anything at the table.

In the past, I would have kept quiet, and suffered through the dinner because that’s what I thought a boyfriend was supposed to do. Now, I could see how much anguish this was causing her. There was no need to continue this if it would only make everyone upset.

I put down my wooden fork.

“Mister Faralind,” I turned to the father, “this was a kind gesture, but I think—”

Mia interjected, her voice shaking. “I’m sure he’s heard the rumors by now.”

The silence grew deeper.

Mister Faralind laughed anxiously. “Mia, honey, the wise elf is above such things,” he urged.

Mia shook her head, pushing away her plate. She stood up and turned her gaze towards me.

“I want him to know the truth,” Mia declared. “He ought to hear it from us, rather than anyone else.”

I hesitated, not sure what to do. I’d overheard about a curse of sorts, but other than that I really didn’t know what was going on.

None of this made sense.

On Earth, Amamiya’s parents were both alive and well.

I’d met Amamiya’s mother and father last Christmas, and nerve-wracking as that meeting was, they’d treated me like family. Amamiya had a good relationship with her parents. That’s why I’d spent so much time getting to know them. Visiting Amamiya’s family allowed me to get away from dealing with my own.

So why, here in Farelle, was Mia having such troubles?

And why was her mother missing from the table?

Mia fixed her dress and took in a breath. “Would you mind coming with me, Mister Roki?” she asked.

From the genuineness in her voice, I couldn’t refuse. I stood and followed her out the backdoor, despite her father’s half-spoken protests.

The moment we stepped into the night air, I could see Mia relax. She seemed glad to be away from the dinner table, and away from her father.

She led me to one of the barn buildings on the property, entering the hay-filled structure and leaning against one of the stall openings. I noticed there weren’t any animals in sight — this barn hadn’t been used in some time.

In the blue light of the half-filled moon, Mia clasped her hands together.

“Remember when I told you, Mister Roki, that I’m...not a lucky girl?”