Chapter 39:

We’ll Try Again

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

Claire’s lips met mine, and suddenly, nothing else mattered. I brought her close, knowing this might be our first and last kiss — and I didn’t want to miss a moment of it. I just wanted to keep her close, and let her know how much I wanted to love her, even if destiny was against us.

Yet, all too soon, Claire pulled away.

She could probably see the disappointment in my expression, but she smiled and softly whispered, “Later.”

My heart leapt. Because if there was a ‘Later’ for us, then maybe she had a plan to get us out of here alive.

Madam Claire gripped her hand into a fist and turned towards the Champions of the Void, raising her voice.

“You asked me earlier if I wanted to be punished for my crimes,” Claire shouted. “I change my answer. No. No, I do not want to be punished.” She glared with all the might she could muster, shining like a brilliant star. “I may have defied fate, but I don’t think fate is always right. After all, I don’t have any heralding stars. Who’s to say what the right action is for my own destiny?”

Claire stood firm, and glared at the trio of beings.

Was it my imagination or...was the ribbon-haired girl, smiling? Ever so slightly, despite the girl’s near-expressionless features, she looked pleased.

“Clarisina,” the Champion of Fate declared, “I agree.”

Claire flinched, surprised. I nudged Claire with my shoulder, offering my closeness as support.

“You...agree?” Claire nervously whispered, not sure yet what that meant.

Champion of Fate let out a slow breath. “I have existed for millennia: for time unending, and time continuous. I watch over all the worlds, and speak for my two companions: these two whose voices cannot be comprehended by beings of your kind. I see so many futures, so many, and I weep.” The girl paused there, raising her glassy eyes to the stars. “I weep for those who have fallen out of fate — for those who have done nothing wrong, other than having the misfortune to be born under weaker stars. However, I am meant to be impartial: a neutral being, intended to follow the stars unquestioningly.” Her rigid expression attempted to smile. “But I am imperfect. And sometimes, I make mistakes.”

The otherworldly girl brought a hand to cover her mouth, laughing. “Sometimes, I punish a World Breaker to become a matchmaker, and send them to a world parallel to their own, where I know the spirit of their loved one will manifest again, given enough time.”

Claire’s eyes went wide, as her mouth fell open in shock.

“You mean…” Claire murmured. “ sent me to Earth not as a punishment? But because it was a world parallel to mine? Where Janus might appear again?”

The ribbon-haired girl merely held a porcelain smile, as she continued her speech.

“...And yet, the World Breaker I sent to Earth did not understand my message. Rather than falling in love like I hoped, she spent a whole year trying to prevent his death — a death that could have been avoided, if only she would have stepped into his life sooner. Yet she did not approach him, and then to my surprise — she sought to solve his romance in another world! It was all I had to ask my companion of Time to summon Mia’s stars to Farelle, so that Clarisina, you might return to your home world and realize we were attempting to guide you.” The being of Fate let out a long, long sigh. “When that did not work, I sent Toren as a message: to inform you that Jun and Mia were not meant to be. Yet, you interpreted my actions as a threat.” She shook her head sadly. “Being a celestial matchmaker, Clarisina, is a much more delicate process than I thought.”

Claire stood there in utter bafflement, frozen. “You were,” Claire muttered, “trying to help me find my own romance?”

The ribbon-haired girl’s smile grew weak, and tired. “And I did a rather poor job too. My understanding of your existence is so foreign, so displaced, that I made you defy fate instead. I pushed you towards punishment — for that is the only role I know how to fulfill. Just as you cannot comprehend my existence, I struggle to comprehend yours. This human-like form you is only how I have chosen to present myself to you.”

The young girl brought her hands together, and her body burned with a white light. The light became so overwhelming, Claire and I both had to shield our eyes. As I blinked away the blinding spots in my vision, I slowly noticed that the stars around us were gone.

Then I realized, they weren’t gone. It was that the view was an impossibly large tree.

An ashen, gray tree trunk spread an unfathomable distance all around. Its roots reached downwards towards millions of distant galaxies, as its branches above did the same. Not a single leaf existed upon its limbs: but rather it was as though the stars themselves were its leaves. Thousands upon thousands of red paper ribbons were tied along its branches, swaying in the swirling gravity of the cosmos.

I brought a hand to my forehead. “We’ve been talking to a giant space tree,” I murmured blankly. “We were match-made by a giant space tree.” I paused. “...I drunkenly stole Tanabata paper from a giant space tree.”

Claire nudged her elbow into my side and I shut up.

The tree shimmered, glowing with an ethereal shine. “From where I exist,” the young girl’s voice echoed, “showing favoritism, or kindness, must be done as a mistake. Champions of the Void are to be impartial, or else, we risk distorting reality worse than any World Breaker. That is why, Clarisina, with your great gifts — I hoped for you to become my beacon of kindness. Not just on Earth, but across many worlds: to guide people towards their fate using love. But you held a shadow in your heart, a burden you could not let go: a guilt over what happened to Janus Akaventus. So I hoped one day you would match-make yourself...and when you did not, I tried to guide you.”

“So all this,” Claire murmured, “was to help me and Jun be together?”

I frowned, grumbling, “You could’ve just told us.”

Claire glanced towards me with a raised eyebrow. “Do you really think post-breakup Jun would’ve trusted a giant space tree talking to him in his dreams, telling him to fall in love with a girl that breaks worlds?”

I opened my mouth to object. Then I...casually shut it again.

The tree’s ribbons fluttered, letting out a soft chime. “Altering fate this indirect way was all I could do. Any more, and my abilities I could have destroyed the stars themselves,” her voice spoke sadly. “I am deeply sorry for the pain it may have caused you.”

Somehow, when I considered the heartaches I felt in Farelle compared to destroying actual stars, my indignation towards the tree lessened.

“So, what now?” I asked the otherworldly beings. “I get the feeling you don’t want to erase Claire I still fated to die?”

“You are,” the tree responded solemnly. Flickers of dust fell like snow from her infinite branches. “But you can avoid that fate by becoming a World Breaker. Your stars are already out of alignment, Jun Hiroyuki, as you have traveled beyond the worlds. All you need now is to defy a World Champion.”

I put my hand on my waist, frowning. Was this one of those last-minute quests where I’d have to go hunt down a demon lord or something?

As if they could read my thoughts, the Champions of the Void seemed to chuckle.

We are Champions,” the tree of Fate reminded me. “And it is currently our destiny to erase Clarisina Sylvai, as punishment for her crimes. So long as no one objects and takes her away.”

I suddenly realized: I’d already defied them. I’d already broken in here and objected to Claire’s fate.

Heart beating wildly, I turned towards Claire and searched her face. Becoming a World Breaker would mean joining her in her solitude. I’d leave Earth behind: leave my friends, my family — and potentially be erased from their memories forever. I didn’t know where it would take me, or what the future would hold.

...But Claire and I would be together.

I leaned closer to her, and I felt something shift in my pocket. I brought out the box that the puppy summoned earlier. Galinnade said to give this to Claire when the time was right.

I opened the lid, and checked what was inside.

Then, I smiled.

“Clarisina Sylvai,” I said her name softly. In front of all of the swirling universe, under a glowing tree of Fate, I opening the box to reveal an engagement ring shaped like a crystalline star. “Will you break the world with me?”

Claire, never one to be outdone, smirked with that mischievous little grin. She snapped her fingers, and summoned a ring of her own creation: one as dark as the void, glittering with hints of fire within.

“Yes, Jun Hiroyuki, I think I shall.”