Dance of the Shining Stars on the Shore of Memory
Chloe: It doesn’t look like Layla remembers Fran after all…
Rustica: That’s alright. Surely, today will be a chance for the two of them to make a lovely new memory. Whether Layla remembers Fran or if she doesn’t… today will be the day they take a new step forward in their friendship.
Chloe: Rustica… … yeah, you’re right! … … ah! Mithra’s fireworks!
Rustica: Now, set them free. Come out, little White Bridesveils. Come out and fly free.
Chloe: … right. That’s our cue to go, too!
Rustica: I ask this of you, Chloe. Let’s create a sky full of stars together with everyone.
After being dismissed by Heathcliff, as soon as I reached the riverbank by the outskirts of the city, I gasped aloud.
Akira: It’s so beautiful…
My entire field of vision was filled with the White Bridesveils, who illuminated the entire area like a sky full of shining stars. They seemed to be enjoying the sound of the harpsichord that Rustica played, floating out over the river while emitting a soft golden light. Before long, as though something were guiding the lights, they began to move in a unified direction.
Chloe: Come on, guys! Come dance with me!
Leading the way with all of the White Bridesveils following along was Chloe on his broom, his beautiful clothes fluttering in the breeze of the night. As though answering the glitter of his robes while making it shine all the brighter, the golden light gathered into one and soared through the night sky.
Akira: (It’s like watching Chloe conduct the motions of the Milky Way…)
While I was enraptured by the fantastic sight, Layla and Fran were doing the same a ways away from me, looking up at the sky together.
Layla: Amazing…! It’s like the starry skies you see in a picture book…!
Layla smiled like a little girl as she gazed upon the scene that Chloe and the White Bridesveils were weaving. Fran-san watched Layla’s happy expression for a while, and then narrowed his wet eyes with happiness.
Fran: I’m so glad… I was finally able to give you the sky full of stars that I said I would.
Layla: Yes… that’s right. I… wanted to see this. But… I don’t remember why… Why is it that I feel so lonely… being alone is so sad, but I still waited here… waiting to see a starry sky… that’s why I’ve been waiting here so long…
A single tear fell down Layla’s cheek. At the sight, Fran panicked a little.
Fran: L-Layla…! Are you okay?
Layla: I’m sorry… I just feel like I’ve forgotten something that I shouldn’t have forgotten…
Fran: … hck… … it’s okay. It’s okay, Layla. You don’t have anything to apologize for… I’m the one who ought to apologize. I just left without saying goodbye, and I’m sorry. I made you feel lonely for so long, and I’m so sorry… hck…
Layla: … crying…
Layla: You’re crying…
Fran: …ahaha, I can’t help it. When I saw you crying, I just couldn’t stop it from coming out. … hey, Layla. About you and me, a long time ago… I still remember it like it was yesterday. So it’s okay if you don’t. What matters is that right now, in this moment, if you’re able to be with me and smile, then that makes me so happy.
Layla: … who are you…? Why would you say something like that to me…?
Layla looked at Fran with a puzzled expression on her face. I know that her navy-blue eyes must have been shining like the night sky, reflecting the White Bridesveils like stars.
Fran: … it’s nice to meet you. My name is Fran. I’ve wanted the chance to meet you for so long. So, I… Layla, will you be my friend? I don’t want you to ever feel lonely again.
Fran gave Layla a gentle smile, and held out his hand to her. His hand was trembling a little bit with nerves. After a little while, Layla nodded slowly. She reached out with a wrinkled hand and took Fran’s hand tightly.
Layla: Fran… Fran, is it? It has a very heartwarming sound to it. I’d love to be your friend. It’s so lovely of you to make friends with someone this much older than yourself. So… if you’re with me, I might find things that I might miss if I were on my own— like it would be okay for me to walk through this world politely.
Fran: …! Yeah… yeah, that’s right. Let’s walk together from now on. If it’s just the two of us, I’m sure we won’t miss anything anymore.
The White Bridesveils continued to shine, enjoying being surrounded by so many beautiful things, and the afterglow lingered. After finishing their parts to play, Chloe and Rustica continued to watch over Layla and Fran from the wings.
Chloe: I’m so happy… it looks like they’re chatting up a storm together.
Rustica: Of course, everybody played a part, but it’s ultimately all thanks to you being brave enough to suggest that we do it, Chloe.
Chloe: Ahaha, thank you! Your performance was also really nice, Rustica! I wish I could capture the moment that the White Bridesveils began to glow when you began to play. I’d capture the memory and lock it away somewhere if I could, it was so beautiful.
Rustica: … if you were to capture the memory, would it be something like this?
Rustica’s long fingers danced across the keys of his harpsichord once more. The joyful melody floats lightly on the night breeze, occasionally bouncing as though it is dancing there. Riding atop that melody, the gentle curve of his lips spun the stars and time around him like magic.
Chloe: … is this…
Rustica: The name of this piece is, “A Starry Waltz Given to the Whites Bridesveils and the Red-Haired Wizard”. It’s a song that will capture the memory of tonight.
Rustica: For whatever reason, memories often run away from inside of my heart… so I thought that before that happens, I would keep the memory captured in this song. I think that this way I can hold onto the memories that I make with you, Chloe. … what do you think?
His violet eyes grew wide and slowly began to fill with tears. He was on the verge of crying, but with no more than a happy smile, Chloe held out his hand.
Chloe: I think that’s really… really wonderful. But—I’m going to be selfish for a moment. I don’t think a song is enough. You’re even more forgetful than you think you are, you know? We have to capture our memories not just in songs, but in dances, too.
As though he were looking directly at the sun shining high in the sky, Rustica narrowed his dazzling azure eyes. And, slowly, he took his dear friend’s hand.
Rustica: Thank you, Chloe. You make an offer I can’t possibly refuse. May I have this dance? And, after we dance, I have another song for you… please let me also give you a song for the wonderful play that we went to see together the other day.
Chloe: … y…yeah!
Chloe: (… hey, Rustica. If… even if you forget about tonight… I’ll sing this song and I’ll show you how to dance as many times as it takes.)
Akira: (What a relief… Fran and Layla, and Chloe and Rustica too… everyone’s expressions are shining as bright as the stars.)
Beyond distance, beyond time, beyond class differences—I’m certain that at that moment, all of the people together in that place were free and beautiful.
Mithra: Master Sage. Here you are.
Akira: Huh—Mithra!? What about the festival…!?
Mithra: I’m done with what I was supposed to do.
Akira: B-but we still haven’t gathered the White Bridesveils back up…
Mithra: It’s fine. Cain and the others are all still over there.
Mithra let loose with one big, lethargic yawn and casually dropped down to sit next to me.
Mithra: … looks like that guy’s having a better time than he was before.
Akira: “That guy”?
Mithra: I mean Chloe. He looked like he was about to cry when he asked me that question the other night, and now he’s dancing with a smile on his face, right? … but you’re the same way, aren’t you?
Mithra: You looked like you were about to cry at the time, too.
Akira: … did I really?
Akira: Well, I guess it must have just been because I really felt for Chloe and understood how he was feeling.
Mithra just stared at me silently, neither prompting me to continue nor signaling that this conversation was over. In the silence, I decided to continue talking.
Akira: I mean… all of the Sage’s Wizards have forgotten the name and face of the sage who came before me, haven’t you? So when I go back to my own world, you’ll probably forget my name and my face too.
Mithra: … you plan on just going home and leaving me here?
Mithra: I can’t sleep without you around so you’re not allowed to leave until this annoying curious affliction is dealt with. I’ll tie you up.
Akira: … ahaha! You’re really a handful, Mithra.
I know it was no laughing matter for Mithra, but I couldn’t help but laugh. His words were a blunt threat, and it was so surprising that it made me happy.
The next sage who comes after me will likely also have the power to offset the curious afflictions. I decided not to say anything about this.
Akira: But I feel the same… I want to cherish the time I have with everyone just a little bit longer. Even if I forget your names, even if I forget your faces, I hope I’m able to hold onto at least a few memories.
Mithra: …? Hah? Is that so?
With an unfocused expression, Mithra follows the direction of my gaze and looks up into the sky. As though filling in the dark-blue sky, the golden lights sway gently as though Chloe’s laughter is calling in the night breeze.
Chloe: Ahaha! Rustica, one more song!
No matter how much time goes by, there are things I remember vividly, but even when I don’t want to forget things, sometimes I still do. It’s the same for both humans and for wizards.
Akira: (But… even if that’s the case…)
It would be nice if we – not just me, but everyone else – could always keep this gentle, beautiful moment in time in our hearts forever.
I couldn’t help but hope that would be the case.