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Interlude I: You Can’t Hurry Love 

“I’ll be straightforward. You all like Touya, don’t you?” Facing Elze, Linze, and Yae, Yumina said exactly what was on her mind. While they were examining the new home they’d received from the king of Belfast, she asked that question after having called the three to a balcony on the second floor. The girls became flustered and red to their ears. 
“I-It’s not like I like him or anything! I-I-I mean, he’s so unreliable and soft-hearted! W-Well, he’s kind, so it’s not like he doesn’t have any good points, but... No, I mean that—” 
“But Elze, you often look at the clothes he bought you and always seem so happy while doing it. I even saw you hugging them tight once.” 
“Ugh?!” Likely never having thought that someone had seen her, Elze grew even redder. 
“You too, Linze. Last day off, you were stalking him, weren’t you?” 
“Fhyahh?! I-I-I-I was just, umm... I wanted to know where he was going! When I thought that it might’ve been a brothel, I just couldn’t help it...!” Flustered more than ever, Linze shook her hands as she explained. 
“And that got you following him for a whole day, hm?” 
“Uohh...” Linze bashfully hung her head. 
Her elder twin sister was unaware of this, so she looked at Linze with eyes full of shock. Unable to bear it, she crouched down and put her hands over her reddened face. 
“And you, Yae...” 
“N-No, I do not think anything of him, I do not...” 
“Really? What about the times when you get hurt in battle? You always ask for Touya to heal you, right? Linze can do it too, you know?” 
“Th-That is just...” Linze looked at Yae, who shifted her gaze away and made it all too obvious. In response, Yumina smiled. 
“I don’t find that unpleasant in the least. In fact, it makes me happy. After all, it means that, other than me, there are three people who believe in and support Touya with all they are.” 
“...That’s just weird. Most people wouldn’t like it, right?” 
“Really? Let me make it clear. Touya is a person who’s going to do great things soon. Keeping such a man all to myself would be far stranger. There are things I can’t support him with on my own, after all. Reasons like ‘I want him to be mine alone’ are far too insignificant to let myself bind a person like him to me.” Yumina replied to Elze’s words as if it wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t like she didn’t want to have him all to herself, but Yumina was more afraid of narrowing his possibilities. 
Also, the three girls before her were deserving of her trust. They loved the same man as her, and would support him with all they had. With that in mind, she suggested something. 
“So, how about we all become his wives?” 
“Wh-What?!” All the girls looked up in wide-eyed shock. 
I’d always had an inferiority complex about my little sister. Ever since I was small, I’d been called ‘thuggish’ and ‘unladylike’ when compared to her. 
It was true that my little sister was cute. Considering I was her twin, that might have sounded like I was merely praising myself, but she was ‘a girl’ in every sense of the word. 
There was no denying that she was a bit introverted and afraid of strangers, but that could actually work in her favor by triggering a man’s desire to protect her. 
She could also cook and was gifted with magic talents. Also, her b-breasts were far bigger than mine... Since she and I were twins, I always felt that God was a bit unfair to me in that regard. 
I grew out my hair as an attempt to be more feminine, but that didn’t affect who I was on the inside. Everyone still always called me ‘mannish’ or ‘violent.’ 
In fact, when we lived in the countryside, I was the strongest person out of everyone my age. I used to knock out anyone who made my little sister cry, so it was only obvious that they wouldn’t see me as a ‘girl.’ 
However, Touya was different. He saw me as a girl the very moment we met. And, unlike the boys in the countryside, he was very kind. Not to mention that he’d been considerate about the smallest things and shown concern whenever he had to. 
Touya made me very happy when he bought me some cute clothes. I never thought that I’d have a boy tell me that clothes like that looked good on me. For one reason or another, simply remembering it made me smile, which perplexed me to no end. Though it was a mysterious feeling, I didn’t dislike it at all. 
Little by little, I became more and more interested in him. And before I knew it, I began looking at him wherever he went. Clearly, it was too late at that point. 
I probably love him. I used ‘probably’ because I’d never felt that way before. 
The boys that surrounded me were either little brother figures or the enemies bullying my little sister. However, by the time I grew aware of my feelings, Yumina was already with us. She was smart, proactive, had a talent for magic, and was even a princess — a ‘girl’ to the point it was unfair. I simply had no chance against her. With that excuse as a weight, I bound my feelings and hid them deep within my heart. 
That was why I panicked when Yumina saw right through me. I didn’t really care about being his lover — I could be at his side by being a friend and an ally in battle. I was even about to make peace with that idea. 
Being her twin, I had a hunch that Linze also had similar feelings for him. Though, I was a bit surprised to know that Yae felt that way, too. 
Yumina’s suggestion took me straight from being surprised to making my mind go blank. 
I mean... a wife? Me? T-Touya’s wife? Did that mean that I’d have to marry him?! That was a necessary part of it, right?! I loved Touya, yes, but wasn’t that a bit too sudden?! I didn’t know if I was even mentally prepared for that! And even if I was okay with it, I didn’t know if Touya would be! Wh-What should I do...?! 
I’d always been a timid person. Constantly hiding behind my big sister, I never said anything I wanted to. When faced with people I didn’t know, I grew tense to the point of making my words awkward and rendering me unable to have a proper exchange. 
Unlike me, my big sister never got scared. She was always frank, and quickly became friends with anyone. I’d always been envious of that side of her. 
Ever since I was young, I was troubled by this and wondered why we were so different despite being twins. If my sister was the sun, I was the moon. The moon couldn’t even shine without the sun’s light. Without her, I couldn’t do anything. And I hated myself for it. 
That was probably the reason why, when I was a child, the boys around me would get angry and bully me. Though, most of the ones who did that would end up getting punched by Elze. 
Because of that, I was never comfortable around boys. That went double for boys my age. I never knew what to say when I was with them, causing me to always turn silent. 
My first impression of Touya was that he ‘seemed like a kind person.’ Despite that, I wasn’t able to have a proper conversation with him. 
Even when he asked me to teach him about magic, I was worried if I could actually do it properly and got all tense, making my explanation sound awkward. However, rather than getting angry at me, Touya listened and was really impressed by what I told him. Before I knew it, I was at ease. 
Since then, Touya couldn’t stop surprising me. He had an affinity for all types of magic, taught us about ice cream, and had a... smartfoan. Plus, just recently, he even saved the king’s life. 
As I spent more time with him, I eventually became able to interact with him like I would interact with a normal friend. 
However, soon after that, it became hard again. 
When talking to him or whenever he would praise me, my heart would begin to race and cause me to stutter. I didn’t know why that was happening, but when he came back with Yumina at his side, I felt a pain in my chest. That was how I became aware of my feelings. 
However, I couldn’t do anything about them. Despite being younger than me, Yumina was proactive and decisive, making her a good match for Touya. It made me sad when I had to think that I’d have to watch over them while hiding my true feelings. 
But Yumina herself, seemingly thinking of Touya more than anyone else, told me to join her in being Touya’s wife. Not only that, but Sis and Yae would be with us, too. I couldn’t wrap my head around it... 
But if that happened... I’d have been happy beyond words. After all, I would be able to be at Touya’s side, too. 
B-But that means that we’ll have to get married, right? M-Marriage?! That word alone was enough to make me turn beet red. 
Hawah, hawawah... Me and Touya? Together?! I’m happy! Very happy, but...! But I still didn’t know if Touya would accept me. In fact, I didn’t even know how to control my feelings on the matter. 

Was it really okay for this to happen...? For Touya and me to get married...? Hawah... Awawawah... 
I had held the blade for as long as I could remember, I had. Since I was young, I would spend each and every day training with my father and brother. 
Training and sword-fighting was always a fun thing to do, it was. Swinging swords always set my mind at ease, after all. There was nothing more pleasant than the moment when I became one with the well-honed sword in my hands and entered a trance-like state. The only ones who could relate to that were my father and brother. My mother and our house servant, Ayane, would always tell me to be more reserved and feminine. 
After I left Eashen and began training in other countries, I eventually reached the Kingdom of Belfast. This was the land where I met Touya-dono and the others. 
It all began when he helped me deal with some outlaws. At first, I thought that he was from Eashen, just like myself, but that turned out to not the case. It immediately made him a mysterious person to me, it did. 
Touya-dono’s swordplay was quite strange. Well, he was peculiar in many other aspects, but what mystified me the most was that, despite having the posture and swing of a beginner, he was curiously strong. He was likely blessed with an exceptionally good basic movement ability and kinetic vision that allowed him to better perceive the things around him. 
As proof of that, he was able to copy my swinging and movements after only a short spar against me. A beginner’s technique mixed with formidable natural talent. As a swordsman, Touya-dono was truly strange. 
I found that unbalanced technique of his to be quite interesting and even somewhat amusing, but eventually, I grew to become more excited about talking to him than I was about sparring with him. Back then, I tried to convince myself that I simply felt an affinity to him due his mentality and many of his likes being similar to that of an Eashen man. 
At first glance, Touya-dono did not seem strong in the least, he did not. However, he had the strength to face anything as long as it was for the sake of what he wished to protect... Just like my brother. 
He could struggle for the sake of someone other than himself. As if it was obvious, he extended his hand to anyone who needed help. Once I realized that was simply part of his nature, it was far too late. To my own shock, I began following him with my gaze and was unable to compose myself whenever we were sparring or simply talking. 
However, Touya-dono already had a fiancee — Yumina-dono. Thus, I began to believe that my feelings would never reach him. 
I never would have thought that I, alongside Elze-dono and Linze-dono, would be offered the position of Touya-dono’s brides. 
How am I to respond to this...? The pure happiness I felt was mixed with bewilderment and making my head spin. 
To become his bride obviously means that I would be his w-w-wife...! And Touya-dono would be my husband... A husband! I-Is that not a bit too sudden, is it not?! H-Hmm... 
“H-How am I supposed to react to that...?” 
“Umm, I... Ohh...” 
“Hmmm...” The three became beet red and let their gazes wander. It was easy to tell that they weren’t averse to the idea, at least. Yumina was pleased with the reaction and smiled broadly. 
“I guess this is a bit sudden. Well then, let’s put this subject aside until you three are sure about how you feel.” She put her hands together and gave that suggestion. After all, forcing them into it might’ve made them get stubborn in some strange way. 
“That aside, you’re all planning on living here, right?” 
“W-Well... if Touya is alright with it...” 
“No need to worry about that. Touya said it himself, didn’t he? ‘I like you all as much as the other. You’re like family to me.’ Though, it’s a bit sad that he called us ‘family’ rather than treating us like proper women.” Yumina’s words made Linze think. If they were to get married and become husband and wife, wouldn’t they have been family, anyway? 
And so, the four girls formed a secret agreement. 
And, a few months later... 
“Well, now that things are made clear and we all became Touya’s fiancees...” The night Touya accepted their feelings, the girls all gathered in Yumina’s room and began a meeting. Eventually, such events would come to be called ‘bridal conferences,’ but that didn’t matter right now. 
By the way, their beloved was out cold due to Elze’s punch and was now lying on his bed. 
“As you are all aware, Touya’s powers are far beyond the norm. As he has done until now, he will continue using them to save many people. However, there could be some who would try to use his powers for their own gain.” In response to Yumina’s words Yae folded her arms and nodded. 
“That is true. Touya-dono seems to be dense when it comes to his own worth.” 
“He is soft-hearted, after all. People like him are easy to fool.” 
“I can easily see through such sorts with my Mystic Eye, so there’s no need to worry about them. The problem is with harmful results of goodwill.” Elze’s words made Yumina turn slightly sad. In response, Linze asked for an elaboration. 
“...Wh-What do you mean?” 
“Let’s say there’s a woman that loves Touya. What if the people surrounding her — such as her parents, siblings, other relatives, or simply friends — wanted to use Touya and demanded that she did something unreasonable? What if she went and begged Touya to help her with it? Now, do you think he’d be able to refuse, even if he knew that he could get hurt in the process?” Yumina’s Mystic Eyes of Intuition could see the true nature of people. But even if their true nature was good, there was no guarantee that their actions would be. Acts born out of good intentions could always result in something terrible. 
“The scariest scenario would be one where the person is in the same position as us.” 
“A fiancee, you mean?” 
“Yes. I believe that there will be more people who will fall in love with Touya. With that, there might... No, there will be more fiancees. When that happens, I don’t want them to be people who would pick their family’s interests and advantages over what’s best for Touya.” Marriage between nobles was simply the joining of the families. Such politicized marriage wasn’t uncommon in the least, and brides who married only for their own family, rather than the groom’s, were many. 
Yumina had absolutely no intention of accepting someone like that. Even if the girl liked Touya, she had to put him above all else. Otherwise, she’d soon be nothing but a burden. Yumina didn’t think for a second that she could get along with such women. 
Though she was the princess of Belfast, if her father ever told her to have Touya do something dangerous for the sake of the kingdom, she would never comply. 
“Women who’d prioritize their own family over Touya, huh...? I imagine there’s tons of noble ladies like that...” Elze muttered. 
“I have no confidence that I would be able to get along with such people... Though, would there really be more fiancees, would there...?” 
“I believe so. Sue is a strong candidate and might join us in two or so years. Not that there would be many problems with her.” 
“Oh, that’s true. She’s really fond of him. Though, it’s more like a sibling relationship at this point.” Yumina wasn’t averse to the idea of Sue wanting to get married to Touya. And the girl’s father, Duke Ortlinde, wasn’t the type to use Touya to further his family. 
However, there was no guarantee that there wouldn’t be any nobles who would marry off their daughters to Touya just for personal gain. That wasn’t limited to Belfast, either. There could be marriage proposals coming from other countries, such as Mismede and Refreese. 
Yumina believed that she and the other girls could prevent such things from happening. For a while, they could reject such proposals by simply saying that there were already four of them. However, as Touya’s fame would increase, so would the possibility of there being more fiancees. Of course, if the new girls thought of Touya above all else, they wouldn’t mind them joining even if they were nobles or princesses from other countries. 
“For now, however, Touya will have to be supported by just the four of us. To do that, we have to become powerful, as well. Powerful enough to walk this life at his side, that is.” 
“True. He can be really unreliable at times.” 
“I-I-I’ll do my best!” 
“But what is it we can do at this point in time?” Yae slightly tilted her head. She didn’t know what she could do for his sake. A girl like her, who spent her entire life following the path of the sword, simply didn’t have anything in mind. 
“There’s no need to overthink it. You only need to try to become someone dear to him. Since we’re all fiancees now, perhaps we should try getting closer to him.” 
“C-C-Closer, as in...?” 
“Holding his hand, linking your arms with his, hugging him. Start with a little physical intimacy, basically.” Yumina’s words made the other girls turn beet red. The purity on display in that reaction made the princess smile. However, at that point, she herself wasn’t able to be that clingy and kept her physical limits with Touya at about the same as Sue’s. 
Though there were many difficulties ahead of them, Yumina was confident that she and the other girls would do just fine. After all... you couldn’t hurry love, no, you just had to wait. 

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