In Love With the Strongest Man

Translator: Shizukuku

Editor: Evelet

Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!

Arc 2 Storm

Chapter 3 Failure

“This is going to be trouble…”

“Meow?”

“Don’t look at me like I’m talking about someone else. I’m talking about you, cat.” The red-furred cat had made itself completely at home on my lap. No matter how many times I put it down, it kept coming back. I tried getting away from the cat after I managed to put it down, but my distorted legs were too slow and it easily got in front of me. Eventually, I got tired and sat down on the lawn. As soon as I did, he climbed on top of me like I was his property. “You look a lot like my old cat.”

“Mew… mew!”

Suddenly, I remembered a cat that was once a member of my family. It was a distant memory from a past I’d locked away twenty years ago. However, ever since the curse had been suppressed, they were gradually emerging. Memories of the happiness I’d lost when the curse took hold of my life. It was incredibly nostalgic and irresistibly painful.

“He had bright red fur too, but his body was a little smaller, I think. His paw pads were black and pink and… Oh, yours are like that too?”

“Meow! Meow, meow, meow!”

“He was selfish, just like you. He never listened to me either…”

“…Mrow…”

My hands, which were stroking his red fur, were shaking before I knew what was happening. The cat, noticing something was wrong, wriggled around and looked up at me. Tears were streaming down my cheeks. I wiped them with my sleeve to prevent them from falling on the cat’s fur, but they kept overflowing and falling from my face.

“…Akane…!”

Allowing the tears to flow freely, I called the name of my former family member. He was a selfish cat with red fur that I’d found weakened and alone in the forest. He would demand I spoil him when he wanted it without regard for my convenience, wouldn’t eat food if he didn’t like it, and sulked whenever I scolded him. Even so, he always came into my bed at night. Cute, selfish, smart, and kind; he was family.

That was twenty years ago. Akane had been an adult cat when I found him. I had decided I would take care of him until he passed away, but due to the curse, I had never gone back to my village. Akane was my precious, precious child.

“Mrrow! Meow! Meow, mrruh!”

“It’s ……. I don’t understand.”

“Mrrruh… meow…”

The cat on my lap was trying to appeal to me, but I had no idea what it wanted. After meowing for a while, the cat nodded its head in disappointment.

“Meoooow, mrrrrrrow! Meow meow!”

Suddenly, the cat got off my lap. It glanced up at me and rolled over, showed its belly to me, then quickly got up and bumped my leg.

“???”

I tried stroking his belly for the time being, not really understanding what he wanted from me.

“Meow!”

“That wasn’t it…?”

His voice sounded disgruntled. After that, I watched the cat’s gestures for a while, and then it suddenly hit me.

“You want me to lie down?”

“Meow!”

It appeared I was right. The cat’s triangular ears stood up and it looked at me with expectant eyes. As prompted, I laid down on the grass, which was wet with the morning dew. Immediately, something soft brushed against my face.

A butt. It was the cat’s butt. His upper body was on the ground and only his lower half was pressed against my face. I was familiar with this difficult sleeping position. Twenty years ago, I was familiar with a cat that wanted to sleep like this every night.

“You, you couldn’t be… Akane…?”

“Meow!”

“No way, it’s not possible…”

“Mrrrrrruh?!”

The cat looked just like Akane, and even shared his unique sleeping preferences, but there was the insurmountable time barrier of twenty years.

Still, I couldn’t believe that it was just a meaningless resemblance either.

This child was just like Akane in every way.

“But is it alright if I call you Akane?”

“Mew!”

“I guess that means it’s okay. Hah, thank you.”

I picked up Akane and put our noses together. The cat rumbled and purred, clearly in a good mood.

“Well, I guess it’s time for you to go back to the forest.”

“Mrrow?!”

When I picked him up and tried to head toward the forest, he started to protest with all his might.

* * *

“Listen, Akane. You better behave yourself, because this isn’t my house. I’m going to ask if I can keep you here, so please be a good, quiet boy and act like your cute little self.”

“Meow.”

“I’m anxious… Akane, you respond so well, don’t you? I hope this is okay…”

I held Akane in my arms and walked down the hallway, minimizing the sound of my footsteps. There was no need to be quiet, but it was a matter of mood. When people feel like they’re doing something wrong, they tend to behave differently than usual. It was a well maintained mansion with good quality furnishings. They had asked me to treat it as if it were my own home, but I couldn’t just take them at their word. I intended to leave soon, but I was going to ask Ideal if I could keep Akane with me until then.

“At this time of day, Ideal should be…”

“He’s in his study.”

“Oh, thanks.”

It was still early, breakfast wouldn’t have been served yet. When I wondered where Ideal was, a passing maid quickly told me. The maid bowed quietly and walked away, pushing a cart. Was she preparing breakfast? She didn’t even glance at Akane, who was in my arms.

“I guess we’re going to the study.”

“Mrrrrrow…”

“What are you frowning about? You can’t live here without Ideal’s permission, so keep it cute.”

When I said that, Akane looked reluctant but his face returned to normal. Akane was very expressive for a cat, and he seemed to know exactly what I was saying.

“I’m pretty sure it was over here… there it is, that door.”

Ideal had shown me around the house, so I was familiar with its layout. I turned down the hallway by the master bedroom and found the door I was looking for.

“Is it… or…?”

“Oh, a guest…?”

Just before I was about to knock, I heard a strange voice inside the room and stopped my hand.

A visitor this early in the morning? I wondered if it was someone close to Ideal.

“Let’s go back for now, Akane.”

“Mew—”

“—So what about Shuka?”

I was about to turn back, but my feet stopped. I couldn’t help but hear my name coming from the study.

No, it’s not good to eavesdrop. My hearing was good, so I could hear what was going on inside from outside the door. I had tried to leave as quickly as I could— but it was too late.

“—Honestly, I regret ever becoming involved.”

My ears perked up Ideal’s voice. That low, beautiful voice was already familiar to me. There was no way I could have made a mistake. Don’t listen.

“I didn’t think he’d be this naive. He’s so unfamiliar, like he doesn’t know anything.”

Don’t listen anymore. I couldn’t move my legs, even though I knew I shouldn’t be hearing this. My heart was beating loudly. My mind went blank.

“I failed.”

For a moment, I couldn’t believe my ears. But I hadn’t misheard. He failed. That was definitely what Ideal had said.

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Ihavenotdecidedyet
Ihavenotdecidedyet
2 months ago

No no no no misunderstandings… I am crying

Stephanie
Stephanie
2 months ago

Thanks for the update