AN: Happy New Year.
I somehow wrote this chapter in the middle of the leisurely atmosphere of New Year’s morning while being buried inside a kotatsu.
Recently, Yue’s component was few so……
If you like, please read it leisurely.
*hou hou* White puffs of breath dissolved into air. The cold air of mid-winter pierced the skin keenly, dyeing the nose tip and ears of the people, who come and go, red. The fallen snow making the sounds *shak shak* when being stepped on and the icicles hanging down from the eaves of the buildings caused the people to feel the cold atmosphere of the few hours before the end of the year.
Although, if it was asked whether that coldness was also freezing the heart of the people who were coming and going through this place, then the answer would be no.
This place was a famous hot spring district. It was a tourist attraction that was colored with orange lighting and the white vapor of natural hot springs. Therefore, the people who were coming and going through the streets that were lined with street stalls and souvenir shops were mostly families or lovers who wished to welcome the end of the year in relaxation at this hot spring district.
No matter how low the temperature became, these people who were snuggling close to each other wouldn’t feel any coldness in their heart. When they came back to their inn, they could even warm their body in the hot spring.
Among those tourists, there were the figures of a pair, a male and a female.
「Yue, you don’t feel cold? If it’s necessary I’ll take out an artifact, you know?」
「……Nn. I’m fine. Winter is a time of cold. It’s fine too to feel this cold air.」
「I see. Yeah, I guess so.」
A pair of lovers closely snuggling with each other――it was Hajime and Yue.
Hajime was wearing a moss coat with fluffy fur attached to the collar while Yue was wearing a cute duffle coat that was cream colored. Hajime and Yue were putting their hands inside their pockets and walking through the main street of the hot spring district at their leisure. By the way, the pocket that one of Yue’s hands was entering was Hajime’s pocket, naturally, their fingers were entangled closely inside that pocket.
「……Is this fine with Shia and the others?」
「It’s fine to be only the two of us like this occasionally. Or else, is it better if it’s with everyone?」
Hajime shrugged his shoulders and answered like that toward Yue who was looking upward at him with her head tilted slightly. He strongly gripped the hand of Yue inside his pocket. He saw from the side that Yue’s cheek, which was facing down, was faintly colored scarlet.
There was no need for an answer. That gesture of Yue’s displayed her answer more eloquently than words. There was no way Hajime wouldn’t be able to comprehend Yue’s wordless answer, so their hands inside the pocket were tightly closing on each other’s.
By the way, all members of the Nagumo family came to this hot spring district. Unfortunately, Shizuku had a gathering with her family with all the disciples of the Yaegashi dojo that was a custom every year. Kaori’s father was crying『Don’t go, my angel!』while clinging to Kaori, so she could only see off Hajime and the others tearfully without being able to participate this time.
In the afternoon the Nagumo family finished their sightseeing and entered the inn, then Sumire commanded ‘charge the hot spriiing!’ every one of the Nagumo family. Hajime used that chance to activate presence isolation at full power and secretly abducted Yue, and like this, the two of them were enjoying their only time alone after so long.
Currently, Shia and the others who had noticed the fade out of Hajime and Yue were thinking「Well, perhaps it’s fine occasionally~」while they were turning boneless from the magic of hot springs. Of course, they intended to ask for compensation from Hajime later on.
「Oh, hot spring egg. You want to eat that?」
「……Nn? Soft boiled egg?」
「No, it’s a bit different from soft boiled eggs. Its white egg part is also soft boiled. Well, it doesn’t really sound like a big deal, but it’s a standard good of a hot spring district.」
Yue instantly answered. Yue was sensitive and also weak to things that were “standard” on earth. Her feelings of wanting to know about Hajime’s world even, just for a bit more, was making her to naturally lean toward that direction.
「……Hot spring egg, two of them. Please.」
The male worker of the stall petrified from seeing the soft smile of Yue who was humming cheerfully at the purchase of the hot spring eggs. There was no need to even mention the reason why he petrified. Currently, the two of them were more or less using magic to obstruct the recognition of other people, so the usual mass production of petrified people and people picking a fight that normally happened when they were walking didn’t happen anymore. But, as expected, when they were the one who was starting the conversation like this, that magic effect would get fainter, in addition to seeing that smile of Yue from really close range.
While smiling wryly, Hajime lightly emitted “Pressure” that he had fine-tuned. The male worker returned to his senses with a ‘hah’, and then with a bright red face, which looked like a boiled shrimp, he handed over two small cups and two hot spring eggs in a hurry. It seemed they could choose whether to crack the egg themselves or made the worker crack the egg for them, but Yue chose the option of doing it herself.
They moved near the trash box where they could throw away the eggshell, and there Yue tried to crack the hot spring egg on the cup that Hajime was holding with her fingertips trembling. Her expression was absurdly serious. Her spirit conveyed that she wouldn’t let even a single fragment of the shell fall off. The expression of Hajime, which was watching Yue, was actually looking warm.
「……Nn-. ……Jiggle jiggle.」
Yue stared fixedly at the hot spring egg that jiggled when it fell in the cup with a splat. Then Yue guided Hajime’s hand and made him present in front of her eyes the cup that he was holding on his other hand. It appeared that Yue would also crack the egg that was Hajime’s share for him.
Yue was staring at the hot spring egg challengingly with a seriousness that was even greater than previously. Hajime’s expression was increasingly slackening watching that.
「Nn-. The egg is splendidly cracked.」
「Thank you for the delicious material.」(TN: I don’t know what joke material Hajime is referring to here.)
Both of them cracked jokes at each other and then chuckled, then they ate the hot spring eggs with small spoons.
「……It’s syrupy. Also it’s really, thick.」
「Isn’t it. Looks like they are using an egg that is relatively good compared to its prices. If salt is sprinkled on this, then perhaps the taste will be locked and become tastier.」
Hajime immediately took out salt made from another world from “Treasure Warehouse” and sprinkled it on the egg. As the result, the expression of Hajime and Yue clearly turned into broad smiles.
The two of them looked satisfied after finishing eating, but when Hajime saw Yue, he slipped out a chuckle. Yue tilted her head slightly.
「At the corner of your mouth, there is egg yolk left.」
Yue tried to wipe off the egg yolk with reddened cheeks, but Hajime’s fingertip stretched faster than her. His index fingertip softly crept on Yue’s lips. 「Nnu」For some reason Yue leaked out a captivating voice and before Hajime’s finger could deal with the leftover egg yolk, that fingertip got nibbled with a snap.
The soft and warm sensation of a licking tongue on his fingertip caused Hajime to look troubled. Graphic sounds *chupa chupa* even began to be audible, so Hajime forcefully pulled out his finger.
「Muu, even though it was delicious……」
「Bear in mind about the TPO(time, place, occasion). We are smack dab in the middle of the hot spring district, on New Year’s Eve. I don’t want my lover to become an erotic terrorist in that kind of place. There are already victims over there, you know?」
When Hajime turned his gaze, there the worker-san of the hot spring egg stall before this, and the couples who were similarly enjoying hot spring eggs like Hajime and Yue nearby, were all simultaneously averting their eyes. While the male camp was strangely crouching a bit forward.
「……I’m sorry. Looks like I got too high spirited in this date with just the two of us after so long. 」
「Those were really joyful words. Anyway, let’s move on. Let’s look around leisurely while eating. It’s New Year’s Eve after all, so there are a lot of stalls. Also, it looks like there will be fireworks matching with the countdown at the riverside ahead, surely we will be able to have fun there.」
「Nn-. ……Ah, but, the end of the year is――」
「Together with everyone, right? I got it. I will take Yue around only until before the countdown. As expected, if we neglected them alone until the change of the year, then Shia and the others would snap.」
Hajime shrugged, but he had already resolved himself to give compensation to Shia and the others. This was also the so-called duty of a real harem man. ……Though if other people were asked of their opinion about this kind of resolve that would make anyone speechless, then it felt like they would say things like『Get stabbed a hundred times over』or『How about you try dying for once?』.
The two of them began to walk around the hot spring district leisurely once more.
For a bit they fed each other ‘aa~n’ with the foods of the stalls, relaxing in a footbath while snuggling closely to each other, taking commemoration pictures at places they got attracted to……Each time they were mass producing merlion that was spitting out sugar even while not particularly doing anything special, they were really passing their time leisurely.
And then, when it was about one hour before the changing of the year, both of them finally arrived at a bridge where they could have a good view of the fireworks. It was an arching wooden bridge with a romantic appearance. Its handrail was colored scarlet and it was maintained really well.
Yue was settled in Hajime’s bosom snugly with her back leaning on Hajime’s chest. Hajime’s hands were reversely put into Yue’s pockets this time, and then like it was only natural, their fingers entwined with each other inside.
「This is our first New Year’s Eve since coming to this world huh, Yue. So what do you think, not even a year has passed but this is more or less a turning point. Do you think you can get used to it in this world?」
「……? Getting used to or whatever, any place where Hajime is is the place where I belong. That is the best place for me. I have no feeling other than happiness here.」
「Aa~, that’s not what I mean.」
Hajime’s expression turned itchy from Yue’s words, then he placed his chin on Yue’s head and rubbed his chin there. While listening to Yue chuckling from feeling ticklish he asked again his question with the intention of asking whether she was simply forcing herself or not from the changed environment or if she felt any inconvenience.
「……Nn~. Not particularly. Regarding the returnees, the society is still in an uproar. It feels inconvenient in that kind of meaning, but everyone is also feeling it similarly. The prospect of resolving it can be seen, so it doesn’t feel like a problem. Rather than that, there are a lot of things here that don’t exist in the world over there, so there are a lot of times where I have fun.」
「I see. I’m glad hearing that. After all, I don’t want Yue to feel stressed or anything. It is the world that is bad if it causes you any stress. If you feel any inconvenience then I’ll reform it no matter what method I have to use, so just tell me anything without holding back, okay?」
「……Fufu. I won’t hold back at all toward Hajime. The time you are changing the world, let’s do it together?」
Maou and vampire princess was making terrifying talk nonchalantly. At this moment, surely world-san was feeling a chill and twitched without a doubt.
Time was flowing away gently for a while without any words. The stream of the small river, the snow that beautifully colored the blackness of the night sky, and the clear air were felt by the two of them. There were also other people in the surrounding, but it was like only the area around the two of them was a separate world that was cut off from everything else. Solemn and silent, sweet and warm, it was such a world.
But, at that time, from afar「Yue-san yaa~I, Hajime-san yaa~i」「Papa-san yaa~I, onee-chan-san yaa~i」, familiar voices that sounded a bit theatrical could be heard. Hajime shrugged「Looks like time’s up」toward Yue who was looking up at him from his chest.
While the two were like that, *pata pata* sounds of footsteps resounded. Shia, who was giving a ride to Myuu on her shoulders, was rushing toward the two of them while she was waving her hands around together with Myuu. From behind those two, Hajime and Yue could see Shuu, Sumire, Tio, and Remia walking toward here.
「I found you nano, phantom thief papa. Obediently get handcuffed nano!」
The moment Shia arrived at Hajime’s side, above Shia, Myuu pointed sharply while saying such a thing. That dramatic gesture of his beloved daughter caused Hajime to chuckle while tilting his head.
「Phantom thief papa? Just what are you accusing me of stealing?」
This time it was Shia who answered. Her finger pointed sharply just like Myuu.
「Phantom thief maou. You have stolen something really enormous. Yes, that is my Yue-san desu!」
「Yue, you, since when did you belong to Shia?」
「Since around a hundred million and two thousand years ago?」
「Thank you for the lovely material.」
As expected the whole Nagumo family was smeared with material. Shia and Myuu were bulging their cheeks while pleading that this time they wanted to be the one kidnapped.
「Oi oi, calling me kidnapper and so on, that sounds bad in people’s ear, you know. You don’t think that Yue was slipping out voluntarily with me?」
Hajime seriously in all seriousness used his presence isolation in full throttle and full power, he instantly carried Yue and escaped. Shia and the others should be unable to reject the possibility that Hajime and Yue were slipping away as accomplices. Hajime was thinking like that and asked with a mischievous expression, but Shia was looking blankly at Hajime.
「He? Because Hajime-san, didn’t you erase your presence, then carry Yue-san under your arm and jump out the window?」
「You, don’t you notice the contradiction in your own words? Even though you understand that I vanished, just how were you able to grasp the detail until that much?」
「About that, like this, it just suddenly came into my rabbit ears. The rest was by me confirming it myself with a sidelong glance, I think. Even though Hajime-san was fast but it wasn’t as fast as a railgun anyway, so it’s possible to confirm your escape using eyesight.」
「……Is that so. You are a bug character……」
Hajime was plainly feeling down from his super high-speed secret action that he performed with his all getting detected normally like that. And then, he recalled how at their recent training so that their skills wouldn’t dull, Shia was casually evading electromagnetically accelerated bullets with normal eyesight. Hajime once more sent Shia an exasperated gaze due to that bug character behavior.
Without change Hajime didn’t let go of Yue from his bosom, Myuu was clambering up on Hajime’s back and secured her designated place on Hajime’s shoulder, then Tio and the others who caught up snuggled close to Hajime. Shuu, who was looking forward to the naked socializing with his son after so long, sent a sulky gaze at Hajime who was feigning ignorance while Sumire was cackling from witnessing that. During all that the countdown to the New Year was finally beginning.
Facing the beginning of a new year, the vapor of the hot spring district was rising high.
Hajime and the others also let out their voices for counting down the seconds. This was the first New Year for the group members that originated from another world. Each second Myuu’s feet went taut, her toes were tensing straight while she was showing a wide smile, Shia was equipping the artifact of recognition disturbance while the illusion hiding her rabbit ears went off, showing her rabbit ears jumping around *myon myon*. Tio was looking up to the sky with a deeply moved expression and Remia was smiling from watching over her beloved daughter’s high spirit. Shuu and Sumire quietly linked their hands together and snuggled on each other watching over their son and daughters-in-law that were like that.
A beat later, the countdown reached zero.
「「「「「Happy Neeeeww Year!!!」」」」」
At the hot spring district, the yell of the people celebrating the new year reverberated. In the next moment, in the night sky of the hot spring district, *dodon* flowers of light bloomed along with reverberations that shook the bottom of one’s stomach.
「Papa, happy New Year! Nano!」
「Ou, happy New Year Myuu.」
Myuu tightly hugged Hajime’s head while saying that, and hearing that Hajime ruffled Myuu’s head with one hand while returning the congratulations.
「Very happy New Year, dear. From here on too, please take care of me along with my daughter, okay?」
「Yeah. Happy New Year Remia. Take care of me this year too.」
Remia gently touched her hand on Hajime’s back while sending those words to Hajime along with a calm smile, then Hajime also looked across his shoulder and replied to her calmly.
「Goshujin-sama. This year too I beg thou for a lot of puni――ehem, a lot of rewards.」
「Don’t try to varnish it over, you pervert. Later I’ll promptly give you the first punishment of this year, so prepare yourself.」
The pervert was shuddering all over.
「Happpy~ Nee~w Yeea~ar desu. Hajime-san. Let’s enjoy this year too, a lot, okay!」
「Looking at the result, you who in a sense is the one with the straightest common sense has helped with a lot since we returned to this world. Thanks. This year, I’ll take you to a lot of fun places more for sure.」
Hajime’s words caused Shia’s rabbit ears to happily flap up and down.
「Hajime, this year too you have perpetrated various things, but just spare me from you disappearing all of a sudden anymore, okay?」
「Right right. It’s fine for you to go anywhere, but at that time take us along too with you. Especially when you are going to Tortus okay! Okay! Over there is a treasure box of material! No need to even mention every one of the Hauria clan, but even Gahard-san is unexpectedly a material character isn’t he. Especially when he is in front of Hajime and Shizuku-chan. I want to meet him again~」
「Tou-san, I got it already. Also, Kaa-san. Stop toying with Gahart. Spare me from an aged middle-aged man clinging on me tearfully.」
Shuu was sending a gaze that was a mix of worry and anticipation, while at his side Sumire was speaking of something terrifying. The emperor of the empire seemed to be fated to getting thoroughly embarrassed by the whole Nagumo family. Already, once when Hajime went to Tortus while taking along Shuu and Sumire, it had become a famous story of how Gahart became a shut-in due to Sumire’s persistent and tricky interview with him.
Yue who was at Hajime’s bosom looked up while calling on Hajime who was exchanging words with everyone. When Hajime turned his gaze to her, Yue’s eyes stared fixedly at him. It was as though she was ascertaining something. As though she was thinking of something. Her eyes were like a movie film, it was as though memories were streaming in succession inside.
Before long, Yue returned her gaze to the fireworks. Then with a calm and mysterious voice, with the sound of the fireworks smoothly fading, she formed her words.
「……It might be too late for saying this, but it’s somehow strange.」
「……Nn. At the bottom of the abyss, the journey with the resolve to turn the world into an enemy began. But, when I noticed, there were a lot of important people around me while I am celebrating a new year in a different world like this staring at the flowers of the night sky.」
「That’s right isn’t it.」
「……Seeing objectively, the bitter time in my life is overwhelmingly a lot. Getting saved by Hajime, meeting with everyone, knowing about the truth of Ojii-sama, and also spending time with my new family like this, looking at it from the entirety, all of those are equal to a blink of an eye. Like a dream.」
「……But, my feeling is the reverse. It feels like the long nightmare vanished instantly like a bubble, and like this, I am enveloped in happiness, as though this is how it has been all along.」
Hajime strongly embraced his lover inside his arms, who was mysteriously colored with the illumination of fireworks light.
Yue’s gaze, which was surely staring at somewhere different inside herself even while it was reflecting the fireworks, returned to Hajime once more.
「……The world is unreasonable, irrational, and absurdly malicious. But, surely at times, it will give a considerate arrangement to those who do their best. Meeting with Hajime, I came to think like that.」
「I see. ……I guess so. Surely, it’s just like you say. No matter what happens, if you struggle, then surely, anyone is able to reach this kind of place in due course.」
Hajime softly dropped a kiss on the forehead of Yue who was looking up at him. Yue’s expression melted limply.
Even on earth, there was still a mountain of troubles. And surely in this new year, there would be a new unreasonable, irrational, and malicious fate lying in wait for them.
But, surely, the world would show its kindness to those who struggled. Yes, they believed in that, whether Hajime or Yue.
Yue was feeling the heat on her forehead while running her gaze toward Shia and the others too. And then, toward the family who responded to her gaze, toward her beloved people, Yue showed them her greatest smile and gifted them her words.
「……Thank you for everything. Please take care of me from here on too.」
AN: All of your honored readers, Narou-sama, and everyone else thank you very much for everything last year. Please take care of me this year too.If you find any errors ( broken links, non-standard content, etc.. ), Please let us know so we can fix it as soon as possible.