After parting ways with Damian, I went back to my room but left soon after for a promised meeting.
With a picnic basket in hand.
The sky’s red hue eventually left for darkness to stay.
Half past eight in the evening.
It’s still too early to say that night had settled in earnest, but the colder the days got, the faster the night came.
The air touching my bare skin was cold, and the grass under my shoes made the sound of thin ice cracking.
It took me a few minutes of walking amidst the quiet sounds and through the shadows.
When I arrived at the meeting place, I stopped walking.
The rustling stopped as well.
All that’s left was the cold air and the texture of grass, tickling my ankles.
And, under the pouring moonlight, there was one man standing alone.
…I wonder what it is about today that’s making me feel unusually sentimental. I’m suddenly reminded of what happened in the past.
That time when I woke up from a nightmare.
And when I went out, walking aimlessly, I found Cassion training alone with a wooden sword.
I had sparred with him and helped him with his technique, but Cassion had just been scrambling to keep up with all of my moves.
As I recalled the Cassion of that time, I chuckled softly.
At the same time, the man who was looking far ahead turned his head this way.
Before our eyes met, I moved my hand.
And the fan that left my hand was flung through the air and straight at him.
The wide-open fan sharply went his way, but Cassion bent his legs and waist to avoid it immediately.
It didn’t stop there.
Soon, the wind around him rose.
The breeze that carried the fan’s momentum shifted, changing the fan’s trajectory. It returned to me.
It was a truly vast improvement compared to how he reacted helplessly last time.
Perhaps this was what it felt like when your game’s character is leveling up at a scary speed.
Was this why everyone’s addicted to games?
Throwing out the useless question, the fan reached me while accompanied by a harsh sound.
Reaching out and grabbing it, the wind that blew the fan towards me made my hair flutter in the breeze as well.
I lowered my hand slowly and saw Cassion’s reaction.
But why was he surprised?
Ah, he must not have expected it to fly right in front of my face.
As the corners of my lips gently tugged up, I inspected the fan in my hand.
‘Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be broken anywhere.’
It’s only natural since it wasn’t flung that hard in the first place, and it wasn’t a real fight.
Nevertheless, I checked it anyway since this was a gift from Damian.
Before long, a black shadow fell over my head.
With my view going dark, I looked up.
Even in the darkness, I saw his black eyes focused on me.
“…Are you okay?”
Soon, a question full of concern reached me.
Instead of answering right away, I shrugged.
“No, I’m not okay.”
“What? Did you get hurt?”
His eyebrows were all crumpled.
At first glance, he looked angry.
But it’s clear that the target of that anger was himself as he was the one who ‘hurt’ me.
Feigning innocence, I placed a hand over my chest and spoke weakly.
“I’m a little upset. You didn’t get as startled as before.
His expression was sincerely upset until now, but it strayed just a little.
“Shouldn’t you just arrive normally?”
“Why? Isn’t it nice to welcome me like that for the first time in a long while?”
When I replied jokingly, Cassion paused.
With a deep look in his black eyes, he blinked.
And beneath his lashes, his eyes stared deep into mine.
His closed lips opened slowly, leaving a narrow gap.
“…I will welcome you no matter what, so you can just come to me normally.”
As he spoke in a slightly subdued voice, his calloused hands tenderly caressed my cheeks.
His touch was gentle as he checked whether I had any wounds.
Unlike the cold night air, his hands were warm.
Leaning my cheek against his warmth, I closed my eyes.
Just like that one time—no. I believe it happened often enough.
Just like when Cassion leaned against my touch as well.
“That’s nice. It feels nice.”
The small whisper was soon carried by the gentle wind, dispersing into the air.
* * *
After spreading out the picnic blanket that was brought along with the basket, we sat on it side by side with our legs stretched forward.
And in each of our hands were small glass bottles of red wine.
Cassion swirled his red wine with child-like fascination.
The red liquid bubbled.
As his eyes had been staring at the bursting bubbles, he glanced at me.
“Are you sure it’s fine to spend your birthday evening just like this?”
“It’s not even my real birthday anyway.”
It was a confession that could not easily be divulged to others, yet it flowed out of my lips so casually here.
I took off the cork of my small bottle first, and Cassion followed after.
With a lilting sound, our glass bottles met in the air.
“Happy birthday to Rosetta,” I said.
At the toast I gave with a smile, Cassion shook his head.
“Yes, happy birthday to Rosetta.”
Without the person in question present in the celebration, the end of the toast felt a bit bitter.
While we took a sip of our wine, our surroundings went quiet for a moment.
Perhaps because winter was approaching, but I couldn’t hear any insects or birds around us.
Beneath the dark sky, it felt as if the only people who existed in the world were the two of us.
“Then, when is your real birthday?”
The question lingered in the air, and a conversation that only Cassion and I could have ensued.
“My real birthday?”
My real birthday, he asked.
I closed my eyes.
Darkness, as black as the night sky. Like an abyss. A blank space containing the ‘real me’ that I couldn’t remember.
“Who knows. When was it again?”
I deliberately hummed, but my voice sounded bitter even to my own ears.
It was the part of my past that I really didn’t care about anymore.
When I gave up everything in the third transmigration, it was the same as throwing that part of me away.
Maybe it’s because I had someone to talk to now that I was getting a bit nostalgic.
“It’s been so long that I don’t quite remember.”
With my tongue, I stole a drop of wine from my lower lip.
Indeed. This, too, was bitter.
Cassion did not answer for a while.
Does he regret asking the question?
As I came to that conclusion, I slowly opened my eyes.
I want to see his troubled expression.
And just in time, the voice that had been quiet all along spoke up.
“…In fact, a birthday refers to the day you were born, right?”
His voice was low, and his face was without a hint of agitation.
“Hm? Yes, and?”
I brought my knees up and leaned my head against it. Then, I looked at him.
His side profile, as he was staring up in the sky, was clear yet also difficult to read.
“If it’s about being born, isn’t it a bit vague?”
“Which part of it?”
“I always felt as if I was dead.”
As his glance returned to me, his smile was light.
“But now, I feel like I’m alive.”
Because I met you.
The statement that followed also sounded light, but the weight of it was the opposite.
In the silence that covered the air between us, we looked into each other’s eyes.
“Then, shouldn’t my birthday be the day I met you?”
At Cassion’s question, which he asked in a very serious manner, I laughed unconsciously.
“What’s with that?”
Cassion joined in on my pleasant laughter.
“I should make that day my real birthday from now on,” he continued.
“You’re serious about that?”
“Yes. So, you too. Choose a day that you like.”
…A day that I like?
Instead of voicing out my question, I tilted my head to the side.
With his lips up in a slight arc, he took a sip of wine first before speaking again.
“A particular day that’s meaningful to you, when you thought, ‘It’s a good thing I was born.’ Isn’t that day good enough to call your birthday?”
This seemed to be what he meant from the start.
As ever, his attempts at consolation were clumsy.
‘Really though, what’s so important about birthdays?’
The first time I thought it’s a good thing that I was born, huh.
Without saying a word, I blinked. Then, I recalled the past in my head.
A day that I like.
A meaningful day.
I didn’t have to think long.
“Then, let’s go with the day I first transmigrated as Rosetta.”
It was the day I came to possess Rosetta’s body, and at the same time, I had gained an adorable younger sister and an older brother.
And that’s not all.
It was the start of the days that I met good acquaintances and formed personal relationships, and also saved the life of the pitiful fellow side-villain.
It’s a fruitful transmigration.
And not a bad life.
So, in lieu of the original birthday I couldn’t remember, I decided that the first day of my fourth transmigration was a good day to call my birthday.
I wouldn’t forget it from now on.
Even if the lengthy cycle of transmigration ends up repeating for me once again, I should continue living with that day in mind.
Cassion, who tended to answer pliantly, just shrugged his shoulders as if it wasn’t a big deal.
He’s putting on a brazen front, but he couldn’t do anything about the tenderness of his gaze.
After I let the flood of emotions pass, which I couldn’t hide, I smiled suddenly.
As expected, I kept gravitating towards good people.
But still, I wasn’t interested at all in becoming a good person myself.
Well, as long as one of us was good.
* * *
The conversation that followed a short time later was less emotional, instead rather grounded in the events that had transpired.
Whether it was worth waiting for this day or not. Whether there was a result or not.
“Have you been to the secret library?”
“Yeah. It was magnificent. It’s a library that truly matches the ‘sacred relic’ that it holds.”
“…Then, the sacred relic?”
“I couldn’t find it. It didn’t respond to me.”
“…Did we guess incorrectly?”
That the sacred relic might be related to your transmigrations…
His following words were uttered cautiously.
He seemed to be worried that I might be disappointed. I shook my head calmly.
“No, not necessarily. I was told that the sacred relic rarely reacts when it’s the person’s exact date of birth.”
“Ah, then that’s a relief.”
I had no intention of saying that it might not be Rosetta’s real birthday either.
I don’t want to think about the secret behind Alicia and Rosetta’s births.
Of course, if you’re not a Korean who’s used to crazy soap operas, such a development wouldn’t have crossed my mind.
Still, I wanted to avoid that possibility. Just in case.
I trusted Cassion, of course, but the priority in this matter was Alicia.
In any case, since it’s something that wouldn’t ever be revealed for the rest of our lives anyway, what’s good about letting more people know about it?
The best kind of secret was one that nobody knew.
“I’ll go back at a later date.”
“Yes. And just in case, check the diary again.”
“Ah, the diary.”
It slipped my mind, but when Cassion brought it up, I nodded.
As he said, it seemed prudent to check the diary again.
‘I’ll look at it later when I return to my room.’
After I made this mental note, our conversation about the library and the sacred relic ended there.
We didn’t talk about them anymore after this.
It’s only natural that I had nothing to say more since I didn’t get to see even a single glimpse of the sacred relic.
“Anyway, enough of that.”
I sipped my wine again and changed the subject.
Along with me, Cassion also sipped his wine.
No, to be exact, the wine only barely touched his lips.
“I got a letter from Leo and Daniel.”
At my subsequent words, the glass left his lips as his eyes darted towards me.
Cassion’s face was stiff.
Plain and clear, he had a cold expression.
His straightened lips opened slowly.
“From those two?”
As he snarled these words, unbridled anger could be heard from his voice.
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