The night before Rafina started teaching magical manipulation, she began to feel a growing sense of unease. Initially, she had felt nothing but pride and simple happiness.
She couldn’t pinpoint exactly when, but gradually, those feelings had morphed into anxiety. She couldn’t help but feel that her twin brother, Aldo, was growing up too fast, especially in comparison to his younger brother, Elphus. The difference in their language abilities alone was staggering. Could there be such a stark contrast between twins?
In the quiet living room, where the children had fallen asleep and it seemed almost too peaceful, Rafina confided in Joshua about her mounting concerns.
“I feel like Aldo is growing up too fast…”
Without any warning, she started the conversation, and Joshua looked at her, responding gently.
“It does seem that way… Elphusis at the typical stage, I suppose.”
Upon hearing Joshua’s words, Rafina felt her anxiety well up inside her.
“I just… I don’t know what to do…”
Her growing anxiety and the lack of a solution left her feeling lost.
“What’s troubling you, Rafi? Isn’t it a good thing that he’s growing up quickly?”
Rafina briefly couldn’t comprehend Joshua’s words. Good thing? Huh? She didn’t understand the meaning.
“Eh? But… being different from others…”
Unlike her initial concerns, Rafina was now bewildered by Joshua’s words, and he began to speak to her as if comforting a small child.
“Listen, my dear Rafi. I want you to hear me out. I don’t think being different from others is a problem. In fact, it’s natural to be different. What’s more important is ‘how that person is.’ Aldo is a very kind child. I’m proud of him.”
Rafina’s mind went blank.
Joshua was deliberately speaking lightly to reassure her, and she understood that.
Growing up quickly was a significant accomplishment, and she feared that it might lead to discomfort or rejection. However, as Joshua said, Aldo was growing into a kind-hearted child. That seemed more important than simply “growing up quickly.”
She couldn’t find fault with Aldo’s way of growing up. If Aldo’s current age were 10, Rafina would be overjoyed.
“How that person is… Yes, you’re right… Aldo is just a little ahead of others, but he’s a kind child.”
Aldo was an incredibly kind child, and at that moment, that was all that mattered to her.
“That’s right, surely his intelligence takes after you. I found one more reason why marrying you was the best decision.”
“There was nothing to worry at all. Thank goodness… Thank you. Truly, thank you… I love you, Joshua.”
“I love you too, Rafi.”
Rafi’s cheeks reddened at Joshua’s words. Once again, she found herself falling a little more in love with him, silently whispering it in her heart.
Whatever troubles she had been facing, they were easily swept away. The two of them disappeared into their bedroom, their laughter muffled.
Now, shifting gears…
In the late-night children’s room, the door opened slowly and silently to avoid making any noise. Joshua entered the room.
He moved to the side of the bed and, without any particular action, gazed at the sleeping faces of the children.
(This is dangerous, isn’t it? They’re too cute. Matching pajamas? Nice! This is good stuff!)
What seemed like a purposeful visit turned out to be nothing more than him smiling as he watched the two children sleep.
(Oh, El’s nails seem to have grown. I should tell the maid to trim them tomorrow… and this…)
After thinking about trivial matters for a while, he turned his attention to Aldo, who was sleeping peacefully.
(Aldo… Please don’t cause Rafi too much worry. I told her that, but your growth is a bit too fast.)
Different things are discarded… It’s a strange concept. Even fruits and meats have subtly different tastes. There’s no single identical stone lying around. Even the view of the sky changes from day to day.
However, in reality, disputes arise from differences in race, customs, gender, and all sorts of “differences.” Religion is a prime example. People believe in the same god, even if that god forbids conflict, they find “differences” and start quarreling.
(Someday, a day might come when we suffer because of our “differences”… and a time when we get hurt… But I hope you never lose that kindness… Until the day you fly away, I promise to protect you…)
He shifted his gaze away from Aldo and Elphus’ sleeping faces, moving silently to the door without making any noise. Before leaving the room, he glanced at the two once more.
(Then, I’ll return to your mother’s side, Aldo. Both of you, goodnight…)
He gently closed the door behind him.