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—The world was becoming shrouded in darkness.

“ ”

As Subaru slumped down, countless black hands reached out toward him. The dark, evil influence was obvious.

Those spiraling hands seized Subaru Natsuki’s soul, trying to melt into him. He could feel his being gradually growing hollow, but strangely, it wasn’t an entirely bad feeling.

—His soul was being corrupted, his very being overwritten.

Experiencing that ultimate desecration of life, Subaru’s heart grew tranquil. Because none other than Subaru Natsuki had committed that desecration first.

He’d ended up like that as a result of corrupting Subaru Natsuki’s soul and overwriting his existence.

“ ”

I want to die. Disappear. Be wiped out and destroyed, lose all form.

If I come back, then turn this body into ash and erase it, as many times as it takes.

—I love you.

As Subaru wished for death, the evil influence that brought the end whispered love. Even if he covered his ears, closed his heart, those dark fingers would slip through the gaps of his closed heart and force their way in.

—I love you. I love you. I love you.

Stop it already. Her resentment was far better than this.

Repeat it all you want, it doesn’t matter. I don’t. I don’t love myself. I knew I was loved. I knew it. I knew already.

My parents. My mom and dad both loved me from the bottom of their hearts.

I knew. There was no way I couldn’t know. That was why I disappeared.

Even though my parents loved me, there was no reason they should love someone so unworthy of love as I am.

—I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Stop it already, please stop. It’s enough already.

I already reached my answer a long time ago. I knew. I knew. I knew, I just didn’t acknowledge it. I just pretended not to see it.

There is no way all those people who were so desperately, so earnestly worried about me were really bad people.

I knew it. There was no way I couldn’t. So I should just die.

I should have tried not to stand in the light of all those people surrounding me with so much mercy.

If I endure this torture, will my plea be heard? Drink me, break me, crush me, banish me to the great beyond, so I never have to face anyone else ever again.

If so…if so, I’ll accept it. I want to accept it. If this can be the end.

If this can be the end, if Subaru Natsuki can disappear—

—I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

“—That’s enough.”

I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you…

There was a voice.

An unending confession of love whispering in his ears.

And a sharp, silvery voice ringing out through the torrent of love blotting out Subaru Natsuki and the entire world.

“ ”

There was a flash of light.

It pierced the evil influence melting Subaru away. The hand hit by the light was blown away. But it was one shadow among countless.

There was nothing to be gained by removing one hand out of the thousands to make up for earning the hostility of the massive swarm of shadows. But the voice that had unleashed that attack bravely advanced, pushing forward, evading, dodging, slipping past the swarming hands with an extraordinary composure.



The voice forcefully grabbed Subaru’s hand.

His body was lifted up and forcibly carried away from there. Emilia was looking straight ahead without wavering, her long, shimmering silver hair fluttering behind her as she ran.

He had confirmed she was still alive. But his heart didn’t swell. Obviously.

He had already let Julius, Beatrice, and Echidna die.

Subaru Natsuki was an angel of death. He might avoid death himself, but the bill still came due, and the people around him were the ones who had to pay the price.

If someone told him that that was his fate, he would have believed it.



“I’m saying there’s no point struggling anymore.”

He stopped his legs, fighting against Emilia as she pulled his arm. She was trying to lead him away, but this time he refused to follow.

“ ”

The two of them stood face-to-face, looking at each other.

As the world came to an end consumed by darkness, Subaru glared at Emilia.

“Why are you trying to save me? It doesn’t make any sense. You think I’m a fake, right? That’s why you locked me into that ice cage and tried to kill me.”

He twisted reality, insultingly and unfairly berating Emilia to wound her as deeply as he could. So that she would never again think to try to take his hand.

But despite his efforts, it wouldn’t work on Emilia, who was so blindingly earnest.

“I would never try to kill you! I just wanted to hear from you what was really happening. And you told me. That you forgot everything. So—”

“That! That could obviously be an excuse! How can you believe it so easily?! It’s insane. What’s wrong with you?! You and Julius and Beatrice!”

He’d told the truth about his amnesia while he was trapped in the cage of ice, even though it sounded like pathetic pleading to live. But anyone with half a brain wouldn’t blindly accept that. Ram and Echidna had it right. And yet more than half of their party were complete idiots.

“No…they all are! At the very end…in that state, at the very end, even Echidna apologized to me… It doesn’t…it doesn’t make any sense.”

“The very…end…? What happened, Subaru? Are they—”

“They’re dead! Echidna’s dead! Both of her legs blown off, bleeding out, in miserable pain… It was an awful death! And Beatrice, too!”


“She protected me, too… Autotomy, what a shitty ability… If only I had noticed. But because I couldn’t, she died. Saying she wouldn’t forget me…”

That even if I forgot, she wouldn’t.

She had so reassuringly sworn to get back Subaru’s memories.

But he had lost her. That was the last thing she said to him.

That’s what you call talking a big game. Putting some grand hope into words and then…

She had kept death at bay from Subaru, looked relieved, and then disappeared from the world.

“If she had to disappear like that…it would have been better not to…carry her away? Whatever. Doesn’t matter. If I took her from someplace else…someplace not here, then it would have been better not to. At least then…”

She wouldn’t have had to disappear while looking like that.

“Julius, too. I’m sure by now he’s already…with all those crazy demon beasts, and Reid even getting in the way…telling me to go…entrusting me… How stupid.”

They’re all idiots. What are they expecting?

Entrusting, recovering, apologizing for doubting me, what are they talking about?

What happens after entrusting something? What meaning is there in recovering my memories? Isn’t it normal to doubt me?

Subaru Natsuki was there because he betrayed everything he was given.

The only one alive and unharmed, give or take, and wishing he could disappear because that fact was so unbearable.

The dumbest, most foolish, most hopeless, unsalvageable one of all—

If that isn’t Subaru Natsuki, then…

“—The first time I met you was the stolen goods storehouse, in the capital.”




“ ”

Subaru was stuck in a bottomless morass of self-doubt and self-reproach when Emilia’s words echoed in his ears. It was a voice recalling nostalgic, dear memories.


That hoarse rasp wasn’t a derisive laugh that mocked her random statement. Subaru’s mind hadn’t followed that far. He was just genuinely bewildered.

Ignoring his reaction, Emilia started counting on her fingers, going back through her memories.

“Felt had stolen something really important from me. Puck and I were all flustered trying to get it back… And after tracking it down, we ended up fighting with Meili’s big sister. It was dangerous, but Reinhart helped us. Then, right when I was relieved, Meili’s sister aimed for me…and that was when you saved me.”

“ ”

“That was the first time I met you… Do you remember that?”

Subaru shook his head.

She had included all sorts of details, but not a single piece of it meant anything to him.

Of course not. It’s her memory of Subaru Natsuki. A fragment of memory spun by Subaru Natsuki’s unimaginable string of actions…

“But because you protected me, you were badly injured, so we brought you back to Roswaal’s manor with us. Beatrice complained, but she healed you, and you became friends with Ram…and I’m sure with Rem, too.”

“ ”

“And then instead of her big sister, Meili sent demon beasts to cause trouble. You and Ram held them back, Roswaal took care of the demon beasts, and I was watching over the manor… That was when I promised to go on a date with you… Do you remember that?”

“ ”

He shook his head again.

I don’t remember. I didn’t do that. I didn’t do anything like that.

“There were a lot of things that happened at the manor. Making mayonnaise, drinking with everyone, Puck making it snow, playing the king’s game…and then I was summoned to the capital for the royal selection.”

“ ”

“That was when we had our first big fight. I didn’t want you to push yourself so hard and hurt yourself anymore, and I didn’t understand why you were being so nice to me, so I was scared. I was worried it would all end when we had our fight…”

There was a faint quiver in Emilia’s voice as she continued.

The joy and sadness, the unease and expectation, all of it mixed together, hitting Subaru with a feeling that made his mouth dry.

It was burning. There was a white-hot blaze scorching his chest.

Burning from the thing that had made Emilia look how she did in that moment.

“When I didn’t know what was happening, just getting dragged along in the flow of a scary situation, when my heart was most on edge, you came rushing to me, and…”

“ ”

“Do you remember what you said to me there?”


—I don’t remember.

It won’t come. It can’t come.

Her trembling voice, the way she said his name, the pleading tone made it clear.

The Subaru there now was not the Subaru Natsuki she wanted.

Hit by the reality he already knew, his soul burned with envy and jealousy.

Why is it you, Subaru Natsuki?

What’s so different about us?

Emilia is thinking it. They’re all thinking it.

—Bring back the real Subaru Natsuki.

—You should just die, fake Subaru Natsuki.

Even though they should be thinking it, feeling it, lamenting it: how much better it would have been if you were here instead of me.

And yet…

“—But I remember it all. What you said. What you did. What you promised. All of it.”

Her smile was filled with joy and expectation, as if the sadness and unease had never happened. And seeing that smile, Subaru’s lips quivered.


What was said, what was done, what was promised. None of it.

I can’t find any of it inside me. Not in my head, not in my heart, not in my soul.


“I don’t…remember. I can’t remember it. You…you! All of you! Who are you talking about?!”

Emilia’s purple eyes widened.

Watching her, Subaru blinked away the hot droplets welling up in his eyes and bellowed with the most vulgar malice he could manage.

“Risking my life for someone else! Reflexively saving someone else! Running around trying so hard for someone else! Risking my life for someone else in order to achieve something! In what world?! You expect me to believe that?!”

When asked if he could remember, he answered in the negative.

Beatrice had disappeared before he could answer her, and he still couldn’t get over the regret he felt for that when Emilia so gently started talking about her memories, trying to persuade him.

Who Julius entrusted, who Beatrice believed in, who Echidna forgave, who Emilia wished for.

It’s Subaru Natsuki. The real one who was summoned into this world—

“—It’s all a big joke! There’s no way that guy is Subaru Natsuki!”

Subaru Natsuki isn’t someone to be entrusted with anyone’s hope.

“I know! I know just how pathetic, how garbage, how hopeless, how rotten Subaru Natsuki really is!”

You think Subaru Natsuki is someone anyone would trust?

“Who are you seeing?! What are you even talking about?! That guy doesn’t exist! It’s all a lie! What you saw in him, what he said, every last bit of it! Just bullshit in order to get through the moment! None of it is worth trusting!”

As if anyone would ever forgive Subaru Natsuki his sins.

“Subaru Natsuki isn’t worthy of that! Subaru Natsuki is trash! Just a worthless piece of shit! I know that better than anyone!”

As if anyone would ever want to be together with Subaru Natsuki.

“ ”

He isn’t worth that. He doesn’t have any worth.

Subaru Natsuki is a plague vector. Everyone he’s with gets hurt, is lost, dies.

So just stop.

There’s no reason for any of you to be hurt for his sake.

There’s no need to be hurt. So…

“…It doesn’t have to be me.”

That was the unvarnished truth of what Subaru felt.

“ ”

It would be better without him—without Subaru Natsuki.

Why entrust something to a guy who couldn’t do anything? Why trust him? Why forgive him? Why plead with him?

There has to be a better way. There must be someone who could do it better.

And if that person is the Subaru Natsuki they all hoped for, then he’s already gone.

He was never there. It was a bluff. An act. An impossible illusion.

Subaru Natsuki isn’t some hypothetical version of me, he’s a dream.

“So just ignore me. Forget about me. Get someone stronger or smarter instead. I…I…”

I can’t.

A feeling of powerlessness consumed Subaru Natsuki.

People have limits. Capabilities. You need to understand. I’m not worthy of walking beside you. I’m not worthy of your hopes.

I’m not strong, I’m not smart. You don’t have to put your hopes in me.


“—My name is Emilia. Just Emilia.”


After venting his powerlessness, still feeling empty, he was caught off guard.

“ ”

He didn’t understand the meaning—no, not the meaning, the intent of what she was saying.

Looking up, his eyes focused on Emilia. She put her hand on her breast, and Subaru could see himself reflected in her big, round, purple eyes.

“ ”

He gulped seeing her shining eyes. Those earnest eyes transformed the memories filling her heart into strength…

“There are lots of things I have to say, and lots of things I have to hear. Lots and lots of them. But right now, let me hear one thing.”

“ ”

“The person who Julius trusted, who Beatrice believed in, who Echidna forgave, and whose hand I just took, who I ran with, who I want to protect no matter what, who I don’t want to let die…”

Emilia closed her eyes, channeling a multitude of emotions.

She was silent for a few seconds. It was clear that all sorts of feelings were swelling in her heart in that brief interlude. And her concern for all of her comrades who weren’t there, too.

With all of those feelings, Emilia’s pink lips trembled.

“You, who made us all feel that way, who are you?”

“ ”

“Please. Let me hear your name.”

His heart shuddered deep in his chest.

It was not a rejection of the Subaru Natsuki standing before her, not a desire to reclaim the past Subaru.

It was an affirmation of him.

“ ”

It would have been so much better if she called him a fake, if she pleaded with him to bring back the real Subaru Natsuki, if she’d cursed him.

That was what Subaru wanted to hear.

He wanted to be rejected because he couldn’t be the Subaru Natsuki they wanted. Since he was the one who had already wished to be erased, to no longer exist.

But she didn’t think that. And she wasn’t alone.

Every single person who had spoken to Subaru Natsuki up until that moment, they all had the same wish.

Strong or weak. Even after forgetting everything, in such a pathetic and disgraceful state, it didn’t change anything. They all showed in their attitude, in their words, in their actions that they needed Subaru Natsuki—


“ ”

“Why Subaru Natsuki, why here of all places? What can he do? What do you expect from him…”

It didn’t make any sense.

In this hopeless situation, in this terrible state, how would Subaru Natsuki being there help at all? How would things change for the better? How would they overcome this?

How could they pin their hopes on Subaru Natsuki, a guy who betrayed every and any expectations?

“What can that weak, stupid, pathetic, spineless guy do?”

“—You might be right.”

Emilia averted her eyes as Subaru shook his head, not so much in denial, but in a plea.

Her purple eyes rimmed by long eyelashes, her silvery voice that tickled his heart. Everything about her was tying Subaru Natsuki to this world.

The urge to just disappear and die was being destroyed by his desire to know the answer she was building up to. It was like a linchpin. Emilia was the anchor tying Subaru to this world.

“There are people stronger than you, and I’m sure there are lots of people smarter, too. But no matter when or where, I would rather have you with me. I believe you would be there for me. And that’s what I want. After all…”

“ ”

“If I’m going to be saved, then I don’t care about who’s capable, or who happened to be in the right place at the right time, or who wants to help me… What matters is that it’s the person I love.”

She smiled as she said that. Smiled as her cheeks flushed ever so slightly redder.

“ ”

Subaru exhaled.

He could feel his heart racing. But at the same time, there was a scornful laugh for Subaru Natsuki in the back of his head.


I get it. I understand it painfully, stupidly well.

The bottomless font of power that Subaru Natsuki had but Subaru Natsuki did not. He finally understood what that was and he laughed.

—So that’s it, Subaru Natsuki. You were head over heels for a cute girl.

“ ”

Once he understood it, he also immediately understood what a stupid reason it was. It was hard to believe, hard to accept, and hard to forgive.

There’s gotta be a limit to not knowing your place. You really thought you could get her?

That cool knight, that wise woman, that adorable little girl, and this beautiful girl.

Trusting you, believing you, forgiving you, pleading for you.

Not wanting to be saved, not clinging to hope, but striving to overcome the walls in front of them. Wanting you instead of just anyone who can get them over the wall.

How the hell did you become the sort of person they would think that way about?

“—My name is Emilia. Just Emilia.”

Emilia introduced herself one more time.

Her purple eyes were looking at him. And Subaru met them head on with his black eyes.

“—Please, tell me your name.”

“ ”

He hesitated.

All the rejections piled up inside him.

I can’t do that. I can’t be that. I’m not that.

All of this was just a convenient play on words. Semantics.

—Trusted, believed in, forgiven, wished for.

In this desert tower, if I really do deserve all that…

In this desert tower, if there is someone who could save them…

If that is Subaru Natsuki, and if that Subaru Natsuki is nowhere to be found, then…

“…My name is Subaru Natsuki.”

“ ”

“The one Julius relies on, the one Beatrice believes in, the one Echidna forgave, and the one you, Emilia, wishes for… If that man’s name is Subaru Natsuki, then…”

The black-haired boy stared into the silver-haired girl’s purple eyes with his black eyes and answered with a mouth darkened by dried blood.

“…I’m Subaru Natsuki.”

—I may be weak and powerless right now, body and mind hollowed out by despair, but this is my declaration.

I hope and pray that Emilia, that all of them will be safe, will be at peace.

That is the most I can do to repay—no, it isn’t anything so admirable as repayment—this is my pathetic plea, what Subaru Natsuki can do for the people who trusted him, believed in him, forgave him, and wished for him.

I want them to be saved. And I’ll stake my everything for that.

“ ”

He forcefully declared that he was Subaru Natsuki.

But the suspicion he felt toward Subaru Natsuki deep in his heart hadn’t cleared at all.

The face and voice of the evil man who had killed a part of him, who had killed Meili, was still burned into his insides. And that might never be exorcised.

But that’s fine. It’s okay.

I don’t want to be saved. I won’t beg to be saved and I won’t cling to them.

I just want them to be saved.

I want to help them.

—If Subaru Natsuki could do that, then I’ll do it.

If this is my opportunity to start, then I pray that the me who sets out on this path is the same who reaches the end.

And if the path you imagined is the same, Subaru Natsuki, then we’re in the same boat. I hate you, but I won’t complain. Even if we can’t stand each other’s faces, let’s deal with it and get through this. So, I’m begging you. Let me save them.

“Thank you, Emilia. For feeling that way about me.”

“…Subaru, I…”

There was a ripple in Emilia’s purple eyes.

A change in emotion, a shift in the balance of joy and sadness. And not wanting to know how it shifted, Subaru looked down, even though he knew it was pathetic.

Just as he was wondering what she would say—


The world that had been so silent, as if not wanting to interrupt their conversation, suddenly shattered.


The passage they were talking in was crushed by a massive shadow in the blink of an eye. The floor lost its shape, and without anywhere to stand, Emilia’s balance crumbled. Subaru still barely had a little footing, but he kicked off what little floor remained and reached out for Emilia.

In an instant, the tower shattered, turning into a pile of rubble filled with old stone and sand.

“ ”

Subaru desperately chased Emilia as she fell, closing the distance, catching up to her fluttering silver hair, and finally holding her slender body close.


Emilia twisted as he hugged her soft, warm body. Most likely trying to adjust her position to cushion him in the fall.

But that was mixing up who was saving whom.

What is with all of you? But unfortunately, that thought isn’t going to be much help here.

Emilia couldn’t know since she had twisted to fall with her back to the ground. But they were not falling toward the hard floor of the tower or out into sandy desert. They were falling into the black shadow that was consuming the tower and guiding everything toward destruction.

“ ”

There was no way to resist. In each other’s arms, they would be swallowed up in the shadow, and that would be the end.

—But it’s not the end. This is it. This is where it all begins.

What I started before, I’ll continue from this ending.

So this is a promise.

I’ll make the words spoken here in this world true.

My hopes that they would be saved, my wish to save them.

I’ll start again from this ending with all of that. I’m done smoldering here.

A curse-like attachment? Bring it on.

—I don’t know if Subaru Natsuki is worthy of being loved.

—But Emilia and the rest of them definitely are.

“ ”

Even if you can’t remember, even if you forget what you said to me.

Even if you can’t remember, even if you forget all the words I flung at you in this dying world, in this starting world.

I remember.

I’ll remember it all.

This time, I won’t forget. No matter what. No matter what happens, I won’t forget. Even if I die, I will never lose these memories.

“Even if you forget…I will never forget you.”

—Don’t you dare forget, Subaru Natsuki.

The shadow closed in, swallowing Subaru and Emilia in darkness.

He clasped her tightly, not wanting to lose her warmth until the very end.

Subaru Natsuki and Emilia sank into the depths of the shadow like that.

Everything was lost, returned to zero, and then the end finally came.

And out of that zero came a beginning.

—The start of the battle to kill this Subaru Natsuki and reclaim the real Subaru Natsuki.


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