10. The Witch and the Poisonous Apple (4)
Roze washes the dishes as soon as they finish the Tarte Tatin.
It’s because she’s confident that once Harij goes home, she’ll lose all the motivation to do so.
Although it takes time and effort, Roze forces her hand to move. It’s probably something that requires the least effort in life after all.
Besides, since Harij comes so often, she doesn’t dare serve him with the same utensils—much less unwashed ones.
As of present, in anticipation to Harij and his food, Roze has prepared arrays of dishes and utensils—which come in varying sizes and shapes.
…the hanging shelf above the sink should still contain grandmother’s utensils.
She tries to reach the shelf, but is unable to do so.
Instead, her brand new viridian robe gets splashed with water.
Once she wore it, she realized it’s just a cloth. She proceeded to also wear it during potion-making and field work. There was no hesitation left in her.
After a few days, her robe becomes filthy.
Even after tip-toeing, Roze still finds the shelf impossible to reach.
When she’s about to find a crate to stand on, a voice is heard from behind her—
“I can help. What is it that you’re looking for?”
“Oh, Mr. Customer, don’t worry. Please sit down.”
Independent Roze is not used to other’s help.
If her crush is being nice to her, surely, she’ll misunderstand it as something else—she doesn’t want to get deluded.
“Which is it? Just tell me.”
However, her crush is also a noble. From Roze’s previous experience as a witch, things will be over quickly if she just follows through with Harij’s intention.
“…Could you open the door on the left?”
Roze finds it difficult from the get go. The shelf is cramped with stuff, thus, uneasy to open.
“Stay back. The moment I open it, something might fall and you might get hurt.”
“No, no, no, no, such a risk, I can’t possibly ask Mr. Customer to—“
“You’re that worried about me getting hurt?”
Harij looks down at her, amazed.
Well, isn’t that the proper reaction towards the idea of someone’s getting hurt?
…Moreover, Harij’s face is the true definition of beauty. If his face gets injured later—even if it’s a slight bruise—Roze might apply every medicine available in her house on him—or just plain demolish the house.
“Mr. Customer, please…”
“I get it, I’ll be careful. After I open it, I’ll get away as soon as possible.”
So, he’ll be opening it ‘carefully’? What does that even mean?
Roze is a sensible witch, and more questions will only feed her anxiety. Thus, she gives up on persuading him.
As expected, once the shelf opens, things start to fall out—
—in which Harij, with all readiness, holds back with his wide palms.
“Good job.” Applauds Roze.
“…You should tidy up this place some more.”
Roze is struck by Harij’s honest words.
After carefully placing the items on the floor, Harij asks Roze once again;
“So, which is it that you need?”
“Yes, it’s on the back of the cupboard—wait, don’t touch the small vial, and also the paper bag next to it. The back, to the left, near the corner, on the right…”
With his patience diminishing, Harij grimaces—
“—you find it.”
Before she realizes it, she’s already floating mid-air.
With both hands, Harij picks her up.
“O, o, okay.”
Roze, who is at loss as to whether to turn red or blue, obeys the order. At least, for the time being.
After locating the small wooden box she’s looking for, Roze informs Harij she has completed the order.
Harij sits Roze down on the floor. With that, comes the end of the warmth that she feels through her thick robes—radiating from Harij’s body.
From the bottom of her heart, Roze is relieved.
“…You’re basically still meatless, huh.”
This man is checking her weight, and the way he says it confirms that he doesn’t see her as a woman.
Either way, Roze is a witch.
It’s good to be seen as a woman, and if not—it doesn’t matter.
First and foremost, she has to open this box and take out the utensils—
—ugh, dammit! The tears are obscuring my view!
“—ah! Here it is!”
“The color is beautiful. It must’ve been made by a very skilled craftsman.”
“Yes, and I—“
—I want to use this tableware the next time we eat together.
When she realizes what she’s about to say, chill runs down her spine.
So you actually believed when he said he would come again?
Moreover, you also expect him to bring yet more food for you?
How foolish of her—she’s amazed at herself, to be this skillful at dreaming…
“…Is something the matter?”
“No, nothing. Uh, I’ll be receiving more customers, hence the need to increase the tableware…”
…This is why I hate love.
I’m making a fool out of myself.
I’m making myself even more miserable.
She shouldn’t have to make up such an excuse for his sake. Instead, she should’ve just shut her blabbering mouth.
It happens all of a sudden—
—with his finger, Harij flicks her hood.
The hood falls.
“Come to think of it, I can’t see your face.”
“N, no, no, no!! I prefer not to show it—I, it’s customary!!” She’s so shocked she forgets her initial feeling, and thus, cries out.
Then, when she’s about to put her hood back on—
—Harij grabs her hand.
“I told you that I can’t see your face, didn’t I?”
“I, I told you I prefer it that way, didn’t I?”
“Do you usually sell things to customer while hiding your face?”
“Yes. The main components of the Witches’ secret medicine are mystery and secret. B, besides it’s also a security measure…”
“Then it’s unnecessary right now, isn’t it?”
More like, right now, is the time when it’s the most necessary!!!
Roze quickly hides her face—especially after being told so by Harij.
She doesn’t dare tell him her honest thoughts right now—somehow, she feels that if she does, Harij’ll get hurt.
Power returns to Harij’s grip on her hand, when Roze once again tries to pull up her hood.
“…Okay. Then tell me why I should show my face to you.”
“Alright, then. Those secrets you had previously told me—do you tell them to everyone else, too? Are they common knowledge?”
Roze shakes her head.
Those were outrageous things she’s supposed to hide for the rest of her life. Not even Tien—her long-time customer and friend—knows them.
“Shouldn’t that be the reason why you can also reveal your face when talking with me?”
Roze becomes speechless. Hopelessly, she stares at Harij with a half-open mouth.
Harij continues. “After all, even if something you don’t want to say shows up in your face—‘I’m not going to say it, because it’s going to be a lie.’ I know that you’re the only one capable of saying that with all honesty. So you can just tell me that.”
Roze shuts her mouth even more tightly—otherwise, something strange might come out…
‘It’s rude to talk without showing your face’—if only that was the context, then Roze wouldn’t be so embarrassed even if her hood is removed.
—turns out it’s for her sake.
For Roze, who lost her mother and grandmother, and accidentally spilled the witches’ secrets—he’s the only one for her to talk to.
…is that the reason you come here lately?
He wants to take responsibility for the secrets he had heard by chance—by being kind to Roze.
Finally, Roze gives up on wearing her hood, and shows a thin, wry smile.
“It has been a long time since I had a face-to-face conversations… because it has been a long time, I might say something rude—“
Harij’s kindness is genuine. She too, want to repay his kindness—
—that’s when Harij gets loud;
“As I thought, you look cute.”
“—as I thought, I can’t do it.”
Roze puts her hood back on—this time pulling it until even her chin disappears inside.
…for a moment there, I thought I was going to die.
In her later days, Roze learns of a spell called, ‘RiajuuBakuhatsuShiro[i]’ and the symptom of excruciating death it causes is similar to her current state.
“—I’m so sorry! Now that I remember, my niece once told me that was akin to a sexual harassment—I will never say it anymore!!”
“And I will never remove my hood again.”
Damn! Roze spews dirty words in her heart, in hopes of calming it down.
[i] Riajuu, go explode! One interpretation is, “Explode into nothingness you Riajuu”