14.2 To be a Witch (3)
“She hasn’t done anything …yet.”
“Then, for what reason did you call her a bother?”
The kid ponders about Harij’s question and immediately goes silent. Cat has got his tongue.
“People are weak, hence, they fear things they don’t know.” Harij then turns towards Roze. Roze becomes tense; for some reason, she desperately wants to avoid his gaze.
“Can I tell them about it?”
“Huh?” Roze doesn’t know what he’s referring to.
“The potions Ms. Witch has been making—can I tell them about it? Or, would it cause you trouble instead?”
“…It’s fine.” Roze answers with a small, but firm voice.
After all, witches don’t lie. It won’t cause her anything even if people were to know about those potions. Roze isn’t bothered about them.
After receiving her consent, Harij asks the villagers without hesitation;
“Do you plant crops in the village?”
“Yes, we do… Wheat and vegetables.” The adults answer, even though they seem confused.
“Then, do you use insecticide?”
“Obviously. We burn it and the smoke repels the insects.”
“Do you put compress on your back?”
“Indeed. Although it was considered a luxury back when, fortunately, it has been easier to obtain medicines as of late, even people like us can enjoy those benefits.”
“—Well, most of those medicines are made by Ms. Witch. I’m not saying that every medicine came from her—but it seems like some of you have been helped by Ms. Witch’s medicine.”
The adults stare at each other with uncomfortable expressions. They grow silent, unable to say anything.
“It’s natural to fear the unknown—but using said fear to justify hitting an innocent person is the worst thing someone could do—now, apologize.” Harij says, staring at the children with severity.
Most of them cry and beg for forgiveness, but one rebellious boy appears unconcerned.
“Then I have no choice but to make you reflect—in the lake.”
Harij lifts the boy—
“—Waaaah!!! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…!!”
Roze also rushes to Harij, thinking he’ll really throw the boy into the lake.
“M-Mr. Customer, it seems like the boy has understood, already, and I, too, am fine with it, so—“
“No, it’s still not enough.” “I’m sorry—!!!”
After the thirty-sixth, ‘I’m sorry,’ he finally releases the boy. The boy now clings to one of the adults, his face wet with tears.
Watching such children and adults, Harij says with a harsh voice.
“Not only witches, people too, are capable of evil. Those people ought to be punished for what they did. Those who have, and those who haven’t—you should’ve been able to discern it with your own eyes. After all, you’re an adult. Adults are supposed to make good decision.”
The adults look guilty and bow, before taking their children away.
“I’m sorry, it took longer than I thought it would. You must be cold.” Without any hesitation, Harij removes his cloak and wraps it around Roze—it’s Roze who panics instead; because Harij’s cloak will get dirty with mud.
“It’s fine. Hurry up and wear it.”
Roze has been pondering about this for a while—but it seems like Harij is used to giving orders…
It’s kind of interesting. Thinking about it, her mind—which was tangled—seems to clear instantly.
“Thanks for lending this to me—ah, and for earlier, too…”
Back then, if she was alone, she wouldn’t have been able to change anything.
She would be too scared to get angry or sad. In the end, she would probably just endure and drag her messy and muddy appearance back to her hut.
The stigma surrounding the ‘Witch of the Lake’ that has been there ever since her grandma was still alive, but now that she thinks about it …it might be possible to put an end to it.
“No problem. Thankfully, you didn’t get hit much.” Harij helps Roze wipe away the mud sticking to her body.
Roze feels like Harij is helping her clean the way he would a pet, yet she still lets him do it, regardless. After the moisture dries off, the mud becomes crisp. Every time Harij strokes her cheeks, the mud falls off.
“Do you have bath inside your house?”
“There’s no such thing, unfortunately.”
“No problem, you can use mine.”
“There is a problem—“
“—let’s go, I’ll help boil the water.”
“If it’s a joke, you have to stop now!”
After Roze has said that, silence returns between them.
She can’t afford to stare back at Harij, otherwise, she won’t be able to make a firm decision.
“…W-what is it?”
“Whenever Ms. Witch is disturbed, or troubled in general, you can let me know. I’ll do everything in my power to help you.”
Some might be unable to accept the fact that their day-to-day medicines are made by a Witch. There might be an unfavorable outcome in the future.
“Thanks, but no need.”
“I’m truly glad for your help, but in the future—“
“Do you think you can handle it alone?”
“Indeed. After all, this entire time, I’ve been doing everything myself.”
—it might not yield the best result, but at the very least, I’m doing something about it. I’ll figure something out and the rest should be fine…
She can’t rely on someone forever—she won’t go far that way.
It might also because Roze isn’t used to receiving other’s kindness.
The bottom line is;
She doesn’t want to be indebted to Harij more than she already is.
“It doesn’t even matter whether she’s a witch or not—it’s wrong to throw mud at people.”
No one treats Roze like a person, much else their equal.
Only Harij treats her like a person, regardless of her identity as a witch.
Since seven years ago, Harij, too, never changed.
Her heart gradually warms up.
Roze truly thinks that his words alone would suffice, even if she has to spend the rest of her life alone.
“Thank you very much for today.”
—I’ll finish the Love Potion as soon as I can.
Roze decides so and bows her head.
A week goes by, in which Roze doesn’t sleep at all to finish the last adjustment.
Thus, the potion is finished—the Love Potion requested by Harij.
**T/N: auauaua *excuses the translator as she fangirls over Harij