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Chapter 15: In Search Of Childishness

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Author: Eltria Original Source: Syosetu
Translator: Mui English Source: Re:Library
Editor(s): Robinxen

“Aa, aafu! Aa-aa!”

Alfe pointed and began speaking, directing her words toward me. I turned my attention in the direction she was looking, trying to understand what she was referring to.

“Nyaanyaa!”

Alfe uttered an adorable but slightly garbled sound while pointing. What matched her words was the cat plushie where she pointed at.

“Cat?”

I asked, and Alfe beamed with a bright smile. It appeared that she wanted that stuffed cat.

I understood her request, but I was no more capable of reaching the cat on the shelf than Alfe was.

Resigned to this fact, I started crawling and stood up while holding onto something. I then walked around to the back of the chairs where our mothers were engrossed in conversation.

“……”

Interrupting their cheerful conversation didn’t seem right, and I didn’t know how to insert myself into it. Wondering if I should give up, I glanced at Alfe, but her expectant gaze was fixed on me.

“Aafu!”

Alfe’s gaze conveyed unwavering trust in me. She didn’t know anything about me, yet she looked at me with such trusting eyes. Alfe must be truly innocent. Or perhaps most children naturally trusted the people around them unconditionally.

Trust.

Thinking about it, I realized I had grown quite complacent and trusting of my own parents. When you live a life without immediate threats, your guard tends to drop.

“Auuu…”

More importantly, I needed to figure out how to fulfill Alfe’s request. If she started crying, there would be no point in me spending time with her. Perhaps it would be best to ask Judy for assistance.

“…Umm.”

I moved a little and placed my hands on the table, raising my voice a bit.

“Oh? Did someone call?”

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Waving my hands to get their attention, the mothers all turned their gaze towards me.

“Oh, Leafa. What is it?”
“Get me that.”

I pointed at the stuffed cat on the shelf.

“My goodness, Leafa! You can talk so well now!”

Judy looked at me with astonishment. Personally, I thought it was just stringing a few words together, but maybe I should dial it back a bit.

“Alfwe wans.”

I quickly put on a fake smile and pretended to speak with a slight lisp, pointing to Alfe. Then, I stopped standing and fell back on my bottom, crawling back to Alfe1.

“Aaau! ♡”

In a surprisingly sweet voice, Alfe called me. It seemed she understood what I was doing, and her mood had significantly improved.

“Thank you. I left it up there when I was cleaning.”

Judy said while taking the stuffed cat from the shelf.

“Ee..uu!!”

With a beaming smile, Alfe pounced on the stuffed cat. It seemed she wanted to say thank you.

“Thenkyu.”

I tried to mimic Alfe’s tone a bit and pronounced it childishly. This much should be enough not to surprise them.

“Thank you, Leafa. You’re really clever.”

Judy gently stroked my head, expressing her gratitude. Her warm, milky-scented hand felt remarkably similar to Alfe’s scent.

“People are even saying that our little master might be a genius. Sounds a bit exaggerated, doesn’t it?”
“No, I don’t think so. I’m sure Leafa is a genius.”

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At home, I had been quite carefree, and it seemed that my parents also considered me not quite ordinary. I needed to show more restraint, or they might not treat me like this anymore.

Because you’re so talented, you’re suitable ‘material’. Being the weed you are.

My foster father, who rescued me from a life as a street child, provided me with clothing, food, shelter, and education, and celebrated my growth with me. He said this as he placed his hand on my neck2. The first adult I trusted never saw me as anything but material for a homunculus3.

I reminded myself not to put absolute trust in my parents. It was fine now, but there could come a time when they would reveal their dark character. I tried to convince myself as such and cast down my eyes in hopes of putting a lid on my gloomy emotions.

“Aau!”

A soft object was pressed forcefully against my face, and I opened my eyes in surprise.

“Aaaa?”

Alfe’s slightly different intonation of vowels seemed to mean “Let’s play.” She put down the plushie and urged me to hug it.

Good grief, she doesn’t know what I’m going through here…

Following Alfe’s prompt, I embraced the stuffed cat, and it felt even softer and more comfortable than I had anticipated. It had a sweet scent that was different from milk, like the elegant fragrance of flower nectar.

“Kyakya!”

Alfe seemed to be delighted by the relaxation she felt in me. I reciprocated by gently patting Alfe’s head, but she seemed intent on hugging both me and the stuffed cat, causing her to fall onto me.

“Wh-…”

I was pushed down onto the floor with the stuffed cat on top, and Alfe on top of that. It was a bit heavy, but this playful interaction was rather enjoyable and childlike.

As Alfe settled down on top of me, her merrymaking soon turned into silent sleeping sighs. It seemed acting regardless of your remaining stamina was also a characteristic of children.

Since she had grown quiet, I decided to listen in on the conversation between our mothers.

“…By the way, I’m considering returning to work soon. The portside eatery seems to be quite busy lately.”
“What are you going to do about Alfe?”
“She’s almost turning one, so I’m thinking of enrolling her in a daycare. My cousin runs one.”
“That sounds like a good idea. Can Leafa also be enrolled there?”

It seemed that they were discussing sending Alfe to daycare, which I assumed to be a facility where children are cared for. My mother was quite interested in this topic Judy brought up. Perhaps our life together was becoming a bit of a burden for her, after all.

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“There should be a free slot I think. Why don’t you try leaving her there for a short time next time? I’ll show you around.”
“Thank you.”

They spoke amiably, but I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a chance of abandonment.

A few days later, Alfe and I were taken to the daycare. It felt like a play area with lots of children, various age groups, and plenty of toys. The constant cheers and cries echoed through the space, and the floor creaked under the continuous movement of the kids.

Was this the place they intended to leave Alfe and me…?!



 

Footnotes:

  1. Silva: what is “hahi”? lol
    Robinxen: Your guess is as good as mine… I mark this as ‘lost in translation’.
    Mui: btw I just saw this in Alchemist ch 15, lol. Can you change it to just “crawling back to Alfe.”
  2. Robinxen: Oh…
  3. Robinxen: Oh okay… This took a bit of a turn.
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