Chapter 36:

I will Refuse Fate

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

My mind was empty.

I sat there numbly on the sidewalk, reading the Japanese text on the signs around me.

The cars rushed by. A few pedestrians gave me concerned glances, before continuing on their way.

No magic. No Farelle. I was back to being the working-class human I’d always been.

I desperately checked my suit pockets. I didn’t even have the opal-like stone anymore.

It was gone.

“No,” I mumbled under my breath. “No, Claire. You can’t.”

I held onto the glass pendant. It was the last thing I had from her.

Then, I gripped my hair and tried not to panic. I didn’t want to forget. But what could I do? I wasn’t a World Breaker. I didn’t have any magic. And I was pretty sure I wasn’t even supposed to be alive

“Hiroyuki?” A familiar voice called.

It was a voice I knew so well; a feminine voice I’d heard so often during these last few weeks. Yet, I’d gotten accustomed to hearing her call me ‘Roki.’

“Amamiya?” I whispered. Distraught, I ran a hand over my face and struggled to stand. “S-sorry, I mean, Inoue.” I quickly switched to using her last name.

We were exes now, after all.

Amamiya wore a business suit, and her short hair was smoothed down with a headband. Pearl earrings framed her face, as she wore a gentle covering of make-up upon her cheeks.

It had only been a month. And yet, it felt strange to see her.

“Are you alright?” Amamiya asked, worriedly catching my arm as I stumbled. She helped me under the awning of a nearby building. “You’ve been so weird at work. You keep bumping into walls and falling down stairs.”

Briefly, I sighed and remembered Claire’s directionally-challenged familiar that was supposed to take my place while I was gone. Exactly how much of a mess had my ‘replacement’ caused?

Amamiya bit down on her lip, trembling. “Hiroyuki, did our break-up...hurt you that badly?”

I glanced towards her. Amamiya was nervous, and curled in on herself.

It must have taken so much courage just to talk to me.

It must have taken so much courage for her to live in this busy city, constantly surrounded by crowds.

And for one year, I’d shared my life with her, only to never really know her or myself.

I bowed deeply, lowering my head.

Amamiya stared at the low bow, confused. “H-Hiroyuki? What are you doing?! People are watching!”

“I’m sorry!” I said firmly, keeping my head lowered. “And thank you. Thank you for letting me be your boyfriend, even if I was a complete idiot.” I finally raised my eyes a little, almost ashamed to meet her gaze. “Yell at me all you like,” I offered. “Say whatever you need to say, for all the times I didn’t listen.”

Amamiya was flustered, and I could tell my bowing was making her uncomfortable. So I raised my head, and braced myself for whatever she might say to me.

The business woman took in a steadying breath. She tucked down a strand of hair and gripped her purse.

“It’s true,” Amamiya declared. “You wouldn’t listen. You’d always make plans without me. You’d always work later than I wanted. And you’d always forget to lock the door behind you when entering my apartment!”

I winced. Was that last one really so bad?

“And you were always so close to my parents! Seriously! They’re more upset that you won’t be their son-in-law, rather than caring about my own broken heart!” Amamiya threw her hands in the air, exasperated. “You’re so annoying, Hiroyuki! I really wanted this to work between us. I really did!”

I felt an ache in my heart. Her words hurt, but I’d listen to them all.

Amamiya’s voice finally fell. “But there’s just, there’s nothing there, Jun. When I imagine a few years down the line, I don’t see a future for us anymore. I still like you, but this can’t...we can’t…”

I know. I’d known for awhile.

I kept silent as her breathing eased, and Amamiya gathered herself.

“I don’t regret it,” Amamiya finally decided. “I don’t regret dating you. Even though you drove me crazy sometimes, we...we had a lot of fun too. And I’ll admit, I didn’t always tell you what I wanted. I expected you to just read my thoughts and figure it out.” She shook her head. “Still, it’s over Hiroyuki. So please, stop showing up to work drunk and hurting yourself. I’m looking for jobs elsewhere, so we won’t have to deal with this office-place awkwardness much longer, alright?”

I nodded, and gave her a weak smile. “Alright,” I agreed. “I’m looking for a new job too, so just...take care of yourself.”

Amamiya stood there, a little shocked. She tilted her head. “Aren’t you going to say something more?” She was genuinely surprised. “I thought for sure you’d interrupt me, and try to convince me to change my mind.”

I chuckled to myself. That’s probably what I would’ve done a few weeks ago: tried desperately to hold onto the relationship, and charge ahead with it, just like I’d been taught.

Instead I closed my eyes and let that go.

“I don’t regret dating you either,” I said gently. “I’m just sorry I was an idiot, and didn’t realize we weren’t speaking the same language of love sooner.”

Amamiya squinted, putting a hand on her chin. She looked me over as though she didn’t believe I was really myself.

“Language of love?” Amamiya whispered, sighing. “You really have changed. Just like she said.”

“...She?” I picked up on that last word.

Amamiya let out a heavy breath. “Call me silly if you like, but I, I actually…” Amamiya glanced aside, embarrassed. “I talked to a Love Sorceress after our break-up, because I wasn’t sure if I’d done the right thing.”

My eyes went wide.

“The Love Sorceress told me I’d find you here today.” Amamiya rolled her eyes. “I thought she was lying to me, but for some reason I just couldn’t get her advice out of my head. The Sorceress said if I talked to you today, I’d find my answer. And I think I have.” Amamiya brought a hand to her chest, calming herself. “We’re both ready to move on from this relationship, aren’t we?”

Quietly, I nodded.

“Then,” Amamiya murmured, “alright this is going to sound even weirder but, after I left the Love Sorceress’ office, I ran into this young girl. She looked like a middle schooler, with all these crazy ribbons in her hair, and I thought she might be lost. But before I could help her, she just handed me a note, and said if I thought you’d changed...if I thought you deserved it, I should read it to you. Then she vanished. The note doesn’t really make any sense, and it’s totally stupid, but...”

“What is it?” I asked, a bit too eager. I had to hold myself back from shaking Amamiya’s shoulders and begging her to tell me.

Amamiya pulled a piece of red parchment out of her purse, and read aloud:

If you still wish to chase after your love, then break the pendant. But know that in doing so, you will cast aside fate, and throw away your one chance at safety.” Amamiya chuckled. “Doesn’t make any sense, right?”

“Thank you!” I exclaimed, nodding. “Thank you so much, Amamiya. For everything.”

“Eh?” The young businesswoman was still very confused, but I couldn’t possibly explain it to her.

“I’ve got to go now,” I stumbled over my words, too eager to wait.

I didn’t know what ‘crimes’ Madam Claire had to pay for bringing me to a parallel world, but I didn’t want her to suffer for my happiness. I didn’t want to be too late to save her. So I ran in search of a quiet place to break the pendant.

But I turned around just once to gave Amamiya a thumbs up.

“Tell Ohta he was right!” I shouted to her. “That Love Sorceress really is amazing! Also, if you ever see your childhood friend Toru Ueno, buy him lunch for me, okay? I owe him!”

I could practically see the question marks above Amamiya’s head. But I dashed off, praying for her future happiness.

Then, I found an empty alleyway. I didn’t know who this ‘middle school girl’ was that left the message for me, but I had no choice other than to trust in her words. Magic didn’t exist on Earth. This was the only way I could follow Claire.

Gathering myself, I pulled the leather chain from my neck, and gripped the glass pendant in my palm.

For one moment, I hesitated, realizing that destroying this pendant might cause fate to kill me if I ever returned to Earth.

Then I realized, I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for Claire anyway.

“Call me a lovesick fool if you want, Claire, but I’m not giving up,” I whispered. “Because I also can’t let this tragedy happen again.”

I raised the glass above my head.

“So you can tell the stars to take their stupid fate…”

I smashed the pendant into a thousand pieces against the concrete.

“...and shove it!”

The glittering liquid inside the glass exploded outwards, in a splash of stars.

The black liquid surrounded me, and I let myself be pulled into a dimension beyond space and time.