REASONS AND TALES
Ryt and Ion stood on the side, both silently sniffling, as Hannah and Lino stepped out of the isolated space and back into reality. Lucky had a faint, crescent smile on her face as she stared at the two, barely holding back from lunging over and hugging them both. Primul merely nodded with a smile and congratulated the two before retreating into his own little corner.
Alison suddenly felt her knees grow weak as she held meekly onto Lucky's back. All the while, deep in her heart, she had hoped it would all blow over -- that she would come to her senses and come back home. However, she truly loved him, Alison realized. It wasn't the sort that passes with time or the ilk that can be vanquished. She loved him from the depths of her heart, and he loved her back just the same.
She was on the wedge, battling deep inside her soul; Hannah was, after all, her best friend, someone who had been there for her since Alison was a little girl. How could she not be happy she had found someone? Yet, at the same time, she felt terribly bitter that Hannah's betrayal hadn't led to a catastrophe, but a joyous story.
“M-master..!!” Ion cried out lowly as he walked up and suddenly hugged Lino. “Congratulations!”
“Congratulations, Master!” Ryt quickly joined, not to be outdone, hugging Lino from behind and rubbing his head against his back. “You deserve it!”
“A-alright lads, he he, stop rubbing you goddamn snot against Master’s shirt, you little fuckers!!”
“A-ah! Sorry!! Sorry!”
“Khm, anyway, thank you,” Lino said. “You two will be in charge of decorating the venue. Are you up to the task?!”
“Definitely not, Master!!” Ryt and Ion quickly stood on attention and replied.
“We know absolutely nothing about decorations,” Ion said. “If you’d like us to put on a performance in which I beat Ryt into a smooth ball, you got it!”
“And by that he means me beating him into jelly, Master!”
“... aah, I’m surrounded by idiots.” he sighed.
“Alright boys, enough joking around,” Hannah chuckled. “Don’t tell anyone just yet. We want it to be a surprise, alright?”
“Yes, Lady Hannah!”
“Tsk, two of the ugliest people I’ve met in my life getting together.” Lucky chortled. “How fitting.”
“Shut up, jealous guard-hound,” Hannah scoffed. “We at least found each other. You still have to stick wood in your ass to get you going.”
“At the very least mine doesn’t go limp after one round.”
“One round is more than enough.”
“Yo, yo, ladies,” Lino suddenly interjected. “By all means, yap at each other however much you want, but let’s keep my wood out of it, huh?”
“Wood? What wood?” Alison suddenly joined in.
“Yeah Master, what wood?” Ion and Ryt quizzed from the side.
“... Alison, you’re a middle-aged woman now, by god,” Hannah sighed. “How can you still not know any of these things? You, dog, you seem you’ve got a mouth on you and a lot of beavers digging around. Teach her already. It’s fucking embarrassing.”
“H-hey!! I know stuff too!!”
"I imagine they were talking about his private part, Lady Alison," Primul said from the side. "It was a rather fun wordplay, if you ask me."
“... private part? What pri------” faster than she ever did before, Alison hid behind Lucky and buried her head into her arms.
“Happy?” Lucky glared at Primul who merely shrugged.
“What about the smithy?” Hannah asked Lino.
“I’ll sort it out with Ed and Jack.” Lino replied. “Don’t you have bigger problems now?”
“What?” she asked back.
“The wedding. I was planning on getting married in like two-three months. So you better start planning.”
“... he he, it’s cute you think anything you want matters,” she winked mischievously, grabbing his arm and strutting it around hers as she slowly began walking forward, dragging him with her. “You can have one thing, Lino -- just one thing of your own. The rest? Just shut up and accept it, okay?”
“... alright. Then I want Vy to walk you down the aisle.” Lino grinned back in the same tone, causing Hannah to sigh.
“... ugh, fine. What do you want?”
“... I’m kidding,” he suddenly ruffled her hair. “All I want is what I’ve already gotten. It’s your job to ensure others realize just how much I love you. So, the bigger the wedding, the more I love you.”
“... h-hey... can I... can I ask you something rather... insane?” she mumbled lowly as they drew distance from the rest, slowly moving across Vy’s insanely massive back.
“What?” Lino asked.
“I... I know it’s stupid, and probably a terrible idea,” Hannah said, sighing. “But... I want to invite my parents.”
“... you do?”
“Alright,” he chuckled lightly. “I’ll make sure they’re there.”
“... oi, what kind of evil shit did you just concoct inside that fucked up head of yours?”
“E-eh?! What do you mean evil shit?! I was just going to politely ask them, you jackass!!”
“Yeah, right. You. Politely asking. Anyone. Anything. Would looove to see that happen.”
“... did I just sign off the rest of my life to... this?” Lino mused with a smile.
“This... and a whole lot more of this. Prepare, pretty boy! You shan’t have a peaceful day till you croak!”
“All I heard is that I won’t have a boring day ever again.”
“No, no you won’t.” she said.
“You’ve gotten quite stronger,” Lino added suddenly. “What’s with that?”
“Well, there’s this abnormal freak that I know and it’s pretty hard to keep up with him. You let it slip once and bam, he’s gone.”
“Oh my, he sounds like a piece of work.”
“Eh, he’s worth it. What about you? How confident are you?” she asked.
“... no man, living or dead, can match me!”
“Alright, let me rephrase that -- if they wailed on you, would you cry or take it like a man?”
“Are you there?” he asked back.
“Cry like a little bitch.”
“Ha ha ha ha...”
“... will Ally be fine, do you think?” she asked, breaking the short silence that had emerged between the two of them.
“... she will,” Lino replied with a smile. “You’ve taught her well.”
“And some thanks I get.”
“Well, you did betray her, making bed with her archenemy and all. Man, what a splendid betrayal.”
“Hey, jagoff, you still want this wedding to happen?”
“Then shut your goddamn trap.”
“... it was fun, seeing her.” Hannah said, smiling lightly. “And talking to her again. At moments... it felt like old times again. When it was just the two of us and her barrage of questions.”
“... yeah? What questions?”
“Ha ha, any kind, really... from what plant this is, what animal that is, why are Sister Rya’s breasts so humongous--”
“Hey, you said it, not me.” Lino raised his arms defensively.
“... ugh, yeah, they’re massive, alright? They’re like... fucking watermelons. Goddammit... how are they so big? Anyway, when I said she’d ask me anything... I really mean anything.”
“... she was always curious.”
“Aye. What about you? What’s it feel like to meet your first love?”
“... jealous?” Lino cracked a smile as he glanced at her.
“Eh, she had you first, I kept you last. Her loss.”
"Or victory. Never say never. Besides," he added, kissing her lightly. "I've met my first love a long time ago, by the side of a clean lake, where she adamantly claimed to be entirely fine with her average-sized tits."
“... you really never liked her?” Hannah asked.
“Of course I liked Ally,” Lino said. “She’d been my entire world for what little time we spent together in the orphanage. I used to sneak out almost every morning and rush to the bakery to get her a hot bun since we’ve never had warm meals in the orphanage. I can’t remember just how many fruit seeds I’d planted in the orphanage’s backyard hoping they’d grow one day, for her. I even went around digging for wells at the edges of the village, hoping to find something.”
“I just always felt like I had to take care of her,” he added, lowering his head slightly. “Whenever I’d look at her, I’d see this... fragile house of cards. In the end, it turned out that the fragile house of cards was actually a mighty castle...”
"... you never told me what happened with you two," Hannah said after a short silence. "Neither did she."
“... she was raped,” Lino said, startling Hannah. “Shortly before you arrived.”
“... the butcher?” Hannah mumbled lowly.
“Hm,” Lino nodded. “She was told I’d be given a warm place and food, and all she had to do was... well.”
“...” Hannah winced, suddenly coming to a stop and bending over, as though getting sick. Lino merely crouched next to her and held her tightly. “I... why... why didn’t she ever tell me?”
“... heh, that’s Ally for you,” Lino chuckled. “She never told me either. I found out by accident. God, even today I remember how shitty I felt back then. I just wanted to find a hole and crawl into it and die. So, that’s the story of us,” he added. “I was pissed she’d do something so dumb for me, and she was pissed I’d send her away without ever talking with her.”
“... how old was she back then? Eight? Nine? My god...” Hannah shuddered as she slowly got up. “I... can’t even imagine how she felt...”
“... you’ve a month, Hannah,” Lino said, lifting her chin gently and caressing her cheek. “Make amends.”
“... heh, you sly animal. You can’t be bothered to convert her, so you’re outsourcing it, huh?”
“...” Lino grinned lightly and kissed her before replying. “You just know me so well, huh?”
“... you did it for me, didn’t you?” she suddenly held his arm and pulled him back before he could resume walking. “You asked her to stay for me.”
“... a little bit for you,” Lino replied. “A little bit for me, a little bit for Lucky. Don’t be so full of yourself, it doesn’t suit you.”
“Oh, you piece of shit...”