9. The Witch and the Poisonous Apple (3)
What happens afterwards is unbelievable—
Harij keeps coming by. Each time, he never fails to bring sweets.
…Even though the promised day is still a long way off.
He also starts to wear casual clothing—probably seeing no use in wearing armor.
After handing the food to the excited Roze, he sits gracefully, waiting.
“…But, this isn’t exactly the place for hanging out…”
Roze bluntly says, and yet, she can’t stop checking the basket—I wonder what he brought today…
That day’s incident has somewhat helped her to speak naturally with Harij. It’s a situation commonly known as ‘shock therapy’.
…I totally didn’t fall in front of him in an embarrassing manner. That totally didn’t happen. At all.
She must stop thinking about that small accident.
“Don’t worry about it.” Harij, who brought a book, starts reading it.
She doesn’t know what does he mean by that—but it’s okay. Today’s food smells good, too, so she’ll turn a blind eye to him.
How does it taste today? I can’t wait to take a bite…
Roze, who hasn’t had a regular diet until now, is fascinated by everything Harij brings. It can be said that she’s completely satisfied.
When she stands in the space that used to be the kitchen, Harij peers from his book and says;
“Prepare more tea leaves.”
The custom of serving tea to guests, she hads almost forgotten about it.
It’s neither a place for hanging out nor a café, yet she can’t refuse because Harij has kindly delivered food to her.
At last, she finds the tea can within the messy interior of the cupboard.
…How long has this been in here?
Roze peers inside the can before finally deciding to taste it—
“…Wait a minute. You are still going to brew that thing—!?”
Harij storms towards her and snatches the tea can. Next to the stunned Roze, Harij looks into the tea can.
…a few seconds later, he gently closes the lid in silence.
“Tomorrow, I’ll bring some tea leaves with me.”
“Oh, oka—huh!? You’ll also come tomorrow?!”
“Yes, do you have any preferences regarding tea?”
“…No, not at all.” Roze answers, stupefied.
Harij’s sudden visits puzzle Roze. Customers usually don’t come around this time—they don’t hangout, either, and this particular customer isn’t just anybody…
…Gosh, if my crush stays longer than this, then my heart will give up for sure…
Harij, who’s oblivious to Roze’s feeling, rises one eyebrow.
“I truly don’t have any special preference…”
“…no, I’m just wondering if I’m inconveniencing you by frequently visiting like this…”
“It’s alright for you to come.”
Such is Roze’s answer—and her heart agrees with it.
“…Because of my absences, I’ve been reprimanded by my subordinates. There’s going to be a large-scale mission in the near future, only after that can I expect to receive my salary.”
Roze, who’s ignorant towards the way of the world, can only tilt her head.
“In short, instead of taking a whole day off, I’m extending my lunch break.”
Harij explains in the middle of eating, yet it doesn’t bring any differences towards Roze’s confusion.
—yet, one thing she knows, Harij visits her not because he doesn’t have better things to do—but because he wants to. To the extent of bringing food…
Feeling Roze’s gaze upon him, Harij glances over the window.
“This is a nice place to relax.”
The scenery outside is so green.
That summer is the most favorite time of the year to be walking in the woods is indeed the truth. It’s full of youthful greenery with bright days in the usually dark, gloomy, forest. Because of sunbeams, the moss growing beneath the leaves appear to be glowing.
“Uh, forest, do you like it?” Roze asks.
“—ah, me too. I like it, very much so.”
Since the time she was born, she had been living within the forest—yet, she never gets tired watching it. For the witches who live in nature, the change of the forest also becomes part of their life.
Therefore, by keeping an eye on the daily small changes, she’ll only discover new things.
…The same can also be said regarding her crush.
Roze is happy, and lets out a small smile under her hood.
“Umm, I’m afraid I don’t have any tea, is normal water okay?”
He seems surprised at her suggestion, yet doesn’t utter any complaints.
His attitude has become a lot softer than a while ago. Maybe he’s getting used being in presence of a witch.
She opens the basket while heating the pot to boil water.
Inside is a beautiful pie that appears so dazzling to her—like the most cherished jewelry inside a lady’s jewelry box.
“Mr. Customer, this, what is this?”
“’Tarte Tatin’—is what it’s called.”
Even the name is wonderful sounding. Roze can’t help saying it several more times. Tarte Tatin—she can tell it’s going to be delicious.
Tarte Tatan resembles an apple pie that was accidentally turned over.
A large chunk of cut apples is glazed with butter and caramel, and then neatly arranged without gaps. The caramel on the surface of the apples glitter like gems.
To eat something as beautiful as this, Roze feels bad.
Roze takes a big breath. Mixed with the sweet aroma, it has the rich scent of apples with a dash of spiciness. It may also contain cinnamon and rum.
Cutting it with a knife is a little difficult. Even though the simmering, appetizing layer of apples is well-boiled thus soft, the bottom layer is hard. Some force must be applied.
As she cuts off the edge, a noise sounds, and Roze instinctively yelps. As it turns out, the noise comes from the solidified sugar portion.
When she finally manages to cut it, a relieved sigh leaks from her.
The above view of the dessert is beautiful, but so is the cut portion—
—soft, boiled sweet apples submerged in amber. It contrasts with the white crust, making her wants to gaze at it forever.
Such a shame that it has to be eaten, really.
Roze comes to the table, bringing both water and the divided Tarte Tatin. Harij puts the book aside, preparing to eat.
“Thanks for the feast.”
Roze does the same and plunges her fork into the Tarte Tatin. As expected, her fork sinks easily into the soft apple. She takes a glance at Harij—he is eating the pie with a cool face and in a flawless manner. Then, she puts a bite in her mouth—
The refreshing scent of apples and the bitter sweetness of caramel make Roze happy.
Although coated in rice flour, making the apples hard to discern, the texture is still chewy.
While gripping the fork and with a mouth still full of the delicious taste, Roze prays—
—God was here.
Harij, who’s glancing at Roze’s appearance, moves his own fork without saying anything.