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    “Hmm…”

    As I opened my eyelids and slowly sat up, the room was empty. It seems I’ve slept for nearly two hours since then. Looking outside the window, the sun was significantly lower in the sky.

    “Right… Gazelle and Felix might be in the living room.”

    My head felt foggy, as if shrouded in mist, but my body was in good condition. Having spent a long time in the carriage, my muscles had become quite stiff, but it seems the rest has helped them recover. Perhaps, it’s also due to this body of mine. At this moment, I’m truly grateful for the effects of the youth-restoring potion.

    “Yawn…”

    Stretching and getting out of bed, I rotated my arms to loosen up.

    Engaging in activities with Gazelle and Felix often leaves me enraptured by breathless pleasure, leading to a loss of consciousness. It seems today was no exception, as I eventually fell asleep. …Though, when I think about it, passing out from pleasure has become rather common, hasn’t it? A bit concerning, really. I wish they’d be a bit more gentle, but neither of them seems to listen when I ask them to stop… Well, I’ll set that aside for now. As usual, Gazelle and Felix have taken care of my body, leaving me feeling refreshed and free of any remnants of our intimate moments. They even dressed me in proper men’s clothing – a comfortable linen shirt and beige pants. What a relief! I was worried I might have to wear women’s clothing again.

    As I stretched and cracked my joints, there was a modest knock at the door. Responding to it, the door opened a beat later, revealing Felix.

    “You’re awake, Takumi. How are you feeling?”

    “I’m fine, thanks. You cleaned me up, didn’t you? Thanks.”

    At my words, Felix smiled warmly. It appeared he had changed clothes as well, now wearing a blue shirt paired with darker trousers and a light white cardigan draped over his shoulders. More colorful and lively than his usual attire in Ritzheim, he never loses his princely charm, regardless of what he wears. Felix could probably make even a tracksuit look stylish. And there it was – a luxurious silver ring glittering on the ring finger of his left hand, a symbol of marriage. Usually hidden under his clothes on a chain to avoid interference with his swordplay, today it adorned his finger. This ring was a custom design, made at my request after deciding to live in this world with Gazelle and Felix.

    The concept of wedding rings was unfamiliar in the Ritzheim. Initially puzzled by my suggestion, they were delighted to learn of its significance in my world and readily agreed to have them made. It brings back memories of the day, three days after I declared my desire to live with them, when we submitted our marriage registration in the city of Ritzheim. We didn’t have a wedding ceremony, but we celebrated grandly by renting out a restaurant in the town, joined by members of the Black-winged knights, the alchemist from Ingrid Perfume, Mars and his friends, and members of the White and Yellow-winged Knights, including Commander Ortolan. It was a bit embarrassing, but such a joyful occasion. Seasons have turned since then, and now it’s early summer. As for my wedding ring, it’s safely stored in my travel bag. Like Gazelle and Felix, I usually wear it on a chain under my clothes during work and only wear it on my ring finger on days off. This time, however, due to the size of my fingers in this form, I couldn’t wear it as usual.

    “Can you move? The sun is just about to set over the sea. It’s visible from the terrace. Would you like to join me?”

    “That sounds nice. I’d love to see it.”

    Upon my response, Felix nodded and then, bending down, he reached out to my back and thighs, swiftly lifting me up. Not expecting to be carried, I hurriedly wrapped my arms around Felix’s neck. Wait, what? We’re going like this? I can walk on my own, you know?

    “Felix? You know, I can walk by myself. You don’t need to carry me.”

    “Is that so? But I might have pushed you too hard earlier… Plus, I enjoy doing this. Lifting you up like this, no matter how many times, always feels new and fun to me.”

    Felix smiled and brought his face close to mine, rubbing his cheek against mine. Wow, Felix’s cheeks are incredibly smooth! Is he using lotion or something? Hmm, they say skincare is important for men these days, maybe I should start doing something for my skin too…

    “Felix, your cheeks are so soft and smooth.”

    I couldn’t help but touch his fair cheek with my fingertips. Felix squinted, as if tickled.

    “Haha, that would be you. Look, you’re so squishy.”

    “Whoa, hey, Felix… Ahaha, that tickles.”

    “Your body is really soft right now. I never tire of touching it.”

    Laughing, Felix poked my face with his finger. Being prodded on the cheeks and the tip of my nose, I couldn’t help but let out a laugh from the ticklish sensation.

    “…What are you guys doing?”

    “Oh, Gazelle.”

    Hearing our laughter, Gazelle peeked his face through the door. Felix then showed a shy, embarrassed smile.

    “Well, you see… Takumi is just so soft everywhere right now, we ended up playing around a bit.”

    “Haha, is that so?” Gazelle lifted the corners of his mouth in amusement at Felix’s words.

    Feeling a bit embarrassed, I took the chance while Felix was talking to Gazelle to slip out of his arms and onto the ground. Felix let out a disappointed “Ah” at that moment.

    “Ta-Takumi…”

    “It’s fine, Felix. Come on, let’s go see the sea.”

    “…Yes…”

    It was as if I could see a golden retriever’s ears drooping above Felix’s head, but I resisted the urge to console him. It’s not that I want to make Felix feel down… but if I stay by his side any longer, I might end up being carried around forever! Besides, after spending so much time on his lap in the carriage, I wonder if Felix’s arms or legs ever get tired? As I pondered, Gazelle, who was beside me, took my hand.

    “Takumi. Be careful, there’s a step there. Ah, got it.”

    Nodding at Gazelle’s words, I suddenly came to my senses. No, no, no! Just because my body has shrunk, it doesn’t mean my mind has regressed, right? Somehow, since becoming this size, both of them seem overly protective… If I get used to this treatment, I might struggle when I return to my original form. I should be careful not to become too dependent on them.

    As we left the room, the three of us stepped out from the living room to the terrace. The living room wall was originally one large window, allowing us to enjoy the outdoor scenery from inside. But—

    “…Wow.”

    The view of the sea from outside was far more magnificent than from the living room. There was nothing obstructing the view from the terrace, with the horizon stretching endlessly before us. Just as we stepped onto the terrace, the sun was setting on the horizon, its fiery hues painting the sky and sea in the same brilliant colors. Everywhere I looked, the horizon continued endlessly, even as I turned my head a full 180 degrees. For someone like me, who has lived far from the sea, it was a sight to marvel at. Moreover, the sky beyond the horizon was ablaze in a fiery red.

    And as the sunset sky reflected off the sea, the waters sparkled with the colors of madder red and orange, scattering light in all directions. I was speechless, utterly captivated by the scene before me. Gazelle and Felix, too, were silent, leaning on the terrace railing and gazing at the crimson sea.

    I’m not sure how long we stood there, but at some point, a light cardigan was draped over my shoulders. It was the one Felix had been wearing; he must have put it on me at some point.

    “Thank you, Felix.””

    Not at all. …I am happy to be able to witness this beautiful sight with you today.”

    Felix replied with a gentle smile, and I responded with the same sentiment. Once again, I turned my gaze toward the sea. The sunset was fleeting; the sun had completely disappeared from view. The fiery red sky was only momentary, now replaced by a soft peach and violet hue. It was a gentle-colored sky.

    Glancing out at the sea, I noticed several small boats heading back to shore, their silhouettes darkened against the backlight, resembling shadow puppets. The sight stirred a somewhat melancholy feeling within me, perhaps because it reminded me of my childhood, combined with my current appearance.

    As a child… my family and I went to the sea just once. It was the first and last time we traveled together. My brother was not fond of sleeping in unfamiliar places. After that, his middle school entrance exams began, and there was no time for such things. The entrance exams for high school and then college followed… Looking back, my brother often had a fierce look on his face during those times.

    …I wonder how my father, mother, and brother are doing. In the other world, it’s been a year since I disappeared. As these thoughts crossed my mind, I absentmindedly watched the boats, when suddenly my head was ruffled as if being scrambled.

    “Whoa, Gazelle?”

    “Sorry about that. You just looked a bit out of sorts.”

    Looking up, I saw Gazelle squinting down at me, his golden eyes filled with a gentle light. I noticed the silver wedding ring, just like Felix’s, on the finger that was petting my head. Gazelle had apparently slipped it on his ring finger without me noticing. The sight of Gazelle’s kind expression and the glint of the silver ring on his finger filled me with a warm glow inside.

    Instinctively, I reached out, and he naturally took my hand. Then, with a warm smile, he said, “Shall we head down soon? It’s about time for dinner,” and squeezed my hand reassuringly. I nodded firmly, and we left the terrace, returning indoors with the others.

    …Right, that’s how it should be. There’s no use dwelling on things without answers right now. Besides, even without my worries, my brother and parents are probably living well. Recalling my family in the other world might bring sadness and longing, and there will likely be many more moments like this. But… I shouldn’t let that overshadow the important people in my life now. My “family” now consists of Gazelle and Felix. Just as they cherish me, I must also value our relationship.

    —Alright! With that decided, let’s freshen up and head to dinner! Now, what do we have? Even if there’s no sashimi, maybe there’s some carpaccio or something similar.

    Dinner was fantastic. It started with cherry wine as an aperitif (I had cherry juice), followed by an appetizer of shrimp, broccoli, and onion salad, a tomato-based bouillabaisse, white fish fritters, and a paella loaded with fresh clams and shrimp picked that morning. For dessert, we had a compote of peaches and figs. Yes—paella! Which means rice! It’s been over a year since I came to this world, and I hadn’t encountered rice until now… I never expected to find it here! Though there was no sashimi, this discovery was a delightful surprise.

    According to the staff at the inn, this rice is imported by sea from a country to the east. My excitement about the rice led Gazelle and Felix to inquire about the Golera City shop that imports it. They do sell it in small quantities to individuals, so we decided to visit during our trip. Yay! Even setting aside the joy of finding rice, every dish at dinner was exquisite. I’ve had bouillabaisse back in my world, but tonight’s was by far the best. I learned that the tomato soup contained pureed conger eel and two types of white fish. The combination of the seafood’s umami from the ingredients and the pureed fish blended into the soup created this delicious flavor. Deeply impressive. However, despite the wonderful meal, there was one disappointment: not being able to meet Rido. He was staying in a different room on another floor, and Gazelle had arranged for our dinner and breakfast for the next day separately. I had hoped there might be a chance to see him at dinner, even though he mentioned our meal times might differ. Unfortunately, he wasn’t in the dining area. When I asked the staff about Rido, it turned out he had dined earlier, around the time I was asleep. I hope we can share breakfast together tomorrow.

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