Part 173: The Witches' Tanabata isn't that SweetThe Witches' Tanabata isn't that Sweet
Original Translation by chronotrig of AnimeSuki. Edited by tiistai
BGM: Worldend (solo)
It is a well-known event celebrated by writing wishes on strips of paper and hanging them on bamboo branches.
It is not often that these wishes are granted, but sometimes spirits and souls of the dead, or even demons and witches, will find the wishes and grant them on a whim...
Ushiromiya Maria was supposed to write one such wish at school.
There was plenty of paper, so the students were allowed to write as many wishes as they could think of.
Everyone was eager to write several wishes at first, but unexpectedly after writing only two or three trivial wishes like 'I wish I had a lot of money' or 'I want to be ____', they came to realize their lack of imagination despite their youth.
However, unlike the other children, Maria thought that writing just one wish was enough.
Rosa was busy with work and would often stay overnight at her workplace.
Maria was a child, so while she understood on some level that it was just part of her mother's job, it didn't mean she wasn't still lonely.
That's why she wrote down her simple wish for her mother to come home every day.
By the way, have you ever thought about who grants the wishes written on these strips of paper...?
There are various theories, such as the Tanabata legend, or the countless ancient gods of Japan... but in fact they are all wrong.
Who grants the wish is that which is the closest to the person who wrote it.
It can be the so-called guardian spirits or ancestors of the person. For those without a spiritual guardian such as that, it can be their parents or a close friend.
To Maria, the witch was even closer to her than her own mother.
So, in Maria's dreams on the night of Tanabata, Beato accepted the wish that the girl had entrusted to that piece of paper, and read it.
"Indeed. Today, you hung a Tanabata wish on some bamboo, did you not? That wish has reached me. Therefore, I have come to you to grant that wish."
"Really?! Thanks, Beatrice!! Uu-uu-uu-!!"
"Well then, about your wish. You wished that your mother would come home every day'... Are you really fine with just that?"
"Yes. That alone makes me happy."
Beato crossed her arms and started mumbling. It looked as though she was mulling over how best to refuse and not grant the wish.
Maria believed Beato could do anything, so when she saw her making a face like, Maria started to grow anxious...
"...Uu-. ...Is it a difficult wish to grant, having Mama come back?"
"No. To make it plain, it's as easy as pie. Nothing difficult about it. But Maria, think carefully. Is it enough just having Mama come home?"
"If I grant that wish with magic, then starting tomorrow, your mother will return home every day... However, even if she does come home, she won't necessarily be in a good mood, you see?"
Rosa was the president of a small company. Things still hadn't gotten off the ground, and running the business was like balancing on a tightrope each day.
She was desperately trying to expand her business by clinging on to any order she could get and using that to bring in more requests little by little.
If Rosa were to come home at a set time every day in this state, it would not end well.
In order for Rosa's company to achieve financial security overnight, she would have to make a wish herself, and make it clear exactly how and where the magic should be used.
But even if the magic from Maria's wish might reach Rosa, it would not extend to Rosa's company.
In short, the wish would be granted by Rosa suddenly losing her job, or else with the company being suddenly crushed, so that Rosa could be at home every day.
That probably wasn't the wish Maria was hoping for... Because of this, Beato had come into Maria's dreams to ask what her true wish was.
"So Maria, let me hear your true wish. Your wish is not just that your mother comes home, right?"
"...No, just having Mama come home every day... isn't good enough."
"That's right. What comes after that... is what you truly wish for."
The desire for her Mama to come home was only the beginning of Maria's true wish.
The wish she truly desired was something that must not remain abstract.
"Mama will come home, and then...?"
"Mama will always come home early... and make dinner with me."
"We'll have fun talking together, peeling potatoes, setting up dishes..."
"It will definitely be happiness..."
She didn't just want her mother to come home every day.
The happiness painted in Maria's mind continued much longer after that...
It was something wonderful even just to imagine.
A meal that the two made together, and could enjoy together while chatting.
Maria had never once asked to eat out. Just eating at the table with her mother was more than enough.
Even though it only happened rarely, Maria wished for it to happen every day.
The glimpse of that dream world made Beato smile warmly.
Maria wished for her to somehow grant that wish, but Beato simply giggled and spoke again.
"Is that enough...?"
"I do believe that this dream of yours includes more than just a happy dinner... That wish still needs more to it before I can listen to it. What you truly wish for surely continues much further, after having that fun meal.
I'll make tea for Mama.
As we drink our delicious tea together, we'll watch TV.
Then I'll heat up the bath and we'll take a bath together.
I'll even put in one of those bubble-filled bath bombs that Mama loves. Then we'll splash around having fun in the tub, and make even more bubbles.
Then she'll kiss me goodnight, get things ready for tomorrow, and go to sleep.
...Then, the sun will rise, I'll wake up early, and wake Mama up when she oversleeps.
Good morning, Sakutaro. Yeah, I know. I'll bring Mama some juice to drink.
I'll bring her some chilled original blend vegetable juice in a chilled cup. If she drinks it right after waking up, she'll feel refreshed and start the morning smiling.
I'll put bread in the toaster and cover it with rose-flavored jam.
Then I'll bring in the morning paper and set it on Mama's chair.
Alright, I'll be back soon, Sakutaro.
After a morning like this, I'll be happy all day long at school.
School is fun too, and everyone in the rabbit band is always happy as well. They really make a ruckus in my pocket.
So I'm sure that Mama will make lots of progress at work.
So I'm sure that Mama will come home in a good mood.
So I'm sure that we will always, always be happy every day.
I could hear a monotonous electronic sound buzzing on.
It was the sound of my alarm clock.
...Oh yeah... I was dreaming the whole time.
There was a small piece of bamboo beside my bed with that piece of paper hanging from it.
I wonder if that's why I had such a strange dream.
Beatrice came from Rokkenjima... and took my wish for Mama to simply come home every day, added onto it and expanded it more and more, into infinity... She drew me a clear picture of a world that I couldn't see at all before, when I wrote that wish down.
No, that's not all. Until a second ago, I really was inside that world.
I'm sure that, for just a brief moment, Beatrice granted my wish for me using her mysterious magic...
She had endlessly expanded my resigned and small wish.
After all, Beatrice is the Endless Witch.
...And, if the world she showed me was made by magic... then as a witch apprentice, I should be able to do it too.
That happy dream, which was so faint that the alarm had drawn me away from it, I should be able to make into something real.
As a witch apprentice, Maria knew how to make that magic a reality.
"...Uu-... By believing."
Yes. By believing in magic, it gains power.
So Maria strongly believed that it had not been a dream, but something that could be made into reality.
...What was the first thing I did on that happy morning?
Maria jumped out of bed and headed for the kitchen.
She wanted to let her mother know that this was the start of a happy morning, which would lead to a happy day and a happy tomorrow.
BGM: About Face
Bernkastel shrugged mockingly.
Lambdadelta, who had been chuckling at how sweet the story had been, looked annoyed at this wet blanket response.
Beatrice commented that Bern didn't understand.
"It's not like that. I weaved a fragment of the world Maria desired, and gave her the key which led to there. All that remained was for Maria to use that key and open the door."
"Even if that were enough to make her happy... Maria herself was the one who made that wish come true, not you."
"You're as twisted as ever, I see, Bern. There's no way for a wish to be granted unless there is a strong desire for it to come true."
"...Humans with strong enough wills are going to eventually grant their own wishes, regardless of any witches. The witch's turn will never come."
"I wouldn't even want to grant a weak-willed wish."
"Yeah, seriously. A certain future dwells within certain willpower. Our infatuation with the strength of that will leads us to just unconsciously lend our power, right?"
"Yes, precisely. It wouldn't be interesting if the wish weren't bold enough to make us unconsciously want to lend our power."
"Bern, you take people's efforts and the strength of their wishes a little too lightly."
Beato and Lambda kept sighing about how Bern didn't understand.
"Hoh. How about it, Lady Lambdadelta? I imagine that one who is so often adored by Humans such as yourself would be an expert at granting wishes."
"Me? I keep it simple. I just fairly and equally encourage everyone to give it their all."
Lambdadelta is the Witch of Certainty. She praises the willpower to certainly succeed until the very end.
Despite possessing both innocence and cruelty, she also has a more tender side with regards to people's passion.
"The most common wishes I get are all stuff like I want to be super-rich', or I want to get ahead in life', or I want to solidify my current position'."
"Just now, you said that you fairly and equally encourage everyone, but do you really grant such impudent wishes for everyone...?"
"Of course not. I avoid granting those wishes to everyone in equal measure. But in exchange, I watch over the children who don't slack off in their efforts until their wish is realized also in equal measure."
Lambda will never smile upon humans who wish to become super-rich', but do nothing to work towards that goal.
Also, she will never grant success to those who try only once to become super-rich.
What Lambdadelta bestows is not the fulfillment of the wish, but the power needed to achieve it.
"The wish I want to be super-rich' can actually be granted for anyone, you see? After a suitable amount of effort, of course. I guarantee the fruitfulness of those efforts."
"...However, you make no guarantees about the necessary amount of effort for that to be granted, right?"
"*cackle*cackle*. I see. The fruits of labor will eventually be granted, but you make no promises about when that will be. You are quite a mean person."
"You think so? Do you have any idea how valuable is a guarantee that your wish will eventually be granted without fail? You know, I like people who work hard. I like people who throw away everything for that goal, and who are capable of abandoning themselves to that unending self-torment."
Those who make their wishes to Lambdadelta must strongly believe that those wishes will be granted eventually.
Without that strength of heart, those wishes will not reach Lambdadelta, and never again would power dwell in the Magic of Certainty.
And, to those people who certainly never give up, and do not forget the meaning of hard work, it's merely blasphemy to their hard work to have their wishes granted by another.
That's why Lambdadelta would never dirty their precious hard work.
All she does is promise that certain resolve will bring forth a future of certainty.
"Hmmm. So, that is the Magic of Certainty. A magnificent power that is in no way inferior to my own Endless Magic."
"Yeah right, it's way better...! You're rock. I'm paper!! Not only that, I'm super-thick paper that's been folded twice!"
"...Folded twice means that you're all wound up. Fits you perfectly."
"Doesn't it?! Oh-hoh-hoh-hoh-hoh!"
With Lambda the only one who didn't get it, all three witches cackled together...
"Lady Bernkastel, are you not the witch who controls miracles? There must be as many humans who want you to grant a wish as there are stars in the sky."
"Well, they are miracles, after all... Granting things that shouldn't be granted... I imagine lowborns with excessive ambition but a dislike of work would love that. But that's no good! Those filthy wishes are unfitting for someone as wonderful as you, Bern. Before you look at wishes of people like that, grant my wish first, Be~rn!!"
"Miracles are called miracles precisely because they don't happen... For me to do something as sweet as granting a wish would be a miracle in itself."
"Human passions don't amount to much to witches... but it seems they don't amount to anything at all to you."
"...I don't want to hear that from someone who's name is known for her cruelty, like you."
"*cackle*cackle*cackle*, wahhahahahahahahaha! Not much I can say against that. I may have been too uncharacteristically soft."
"Well, you are really soft and sweet when it comes to Maria, Beato. You should spread that sweetness around to more people besides Maria, instead of letting it pile up like sugar at the bottom of the cup."
"...Good grief. It's not just Beato. You too, Lambda. You both have been a little too sweet today. Dried plum goes better in coffee than sugar does."
"Bern, it's not like Tanabata comes every day, right? Go and grant at least one wish."
With a fed up look on her face, Bern disappeared.
In the process of living a thousand years, she had lost her human heart. She didn't like sweet or heart-warming stories.
Beato laughed coldly, as though this was the way a witch was supposed to be.
All of the warmth that had woven Maria's happiness was gone from her expression...
...You're telling me to grant at least one wish because it's Tanabata?
I am a witch. The witch who governs miracles.
...No matter what kind of effort, fortune, entusiasm, or unity... I know that the end of it all, there is no miracle waiting.
It's exactly because I know that there will be no miracle that I am the Witch of Miracles.
In that case, just whose wish are you saying I should grant...?
So what if it's the Tanabata? They're just being a little too festive.
Expanding a happy dream into infinity?
Effort that brings success no matter what...?
It's so sickningly sweet that my tongue will fall off... Aah, how revolting.
It's the same to you, right?
Because that's obviously what you're looking forward to.
Little Ange had recieved a small piece of paper at school...
She had written 'I wish for my family to come home' on it and now she hung it on a bamboo branch and fastened that to her bed post.
Then, she clapped, and made her wish again so that it would come true...
Having wished with all her might, Bern appeared to her in the land next to illusions, the world of slumber.
"Ye...yeah. ...Who...are you...?"
"I will not tell you my name. This is the world of slumber, a world as fleeting as a receding tide... Even if you hear my name, it will not remain in your memory."
"Well then, your wish... I wouldn't mind causing a miracle and granting your wish."
"Yes. Really. However, magic is something that will not be granted unless you wish for it strongly and work hard for it... that's how it works, apparently. According to Lambda. It's such a pain."
Ange was not able to hide her surprise at this witch, who showed up in the world of her dreams, claiming that she would grant her wish.
However, she felt that the witch wanted something in exchange for the miracle.
...But, if her family would come home, Ange thought that she would accept any undertaking.
"......""I'll work as hard as you want me to, Lady Witch. Please hear my wish...!"
If you follow my instructions every single day, if your desire for that wish to be truly granted reaches the heavens... at that time, I will definitely pay you another visit, and grant your wish."
Although, that could be 1 year from now, 5 years from now, or perhaps 10 or more years from now.
In that regard, I guess I'm about the same as Lambda. I'll grant it eventually, so it's not exactly unkind. *giggle*giggle*...
"Then, Lady Witch. ...What should I strive for...?"
"Today, you were told by your foster mother, Ushiromiya Eva, to think of her as a replacement for your mother, and that you could count on her for anything, right...?"
We are connected as aunt and niece. But we are also connected in that I have lost a child and you have lost your parents.
And we cannot trick ourselves into thinking of each other as replacements for our lost family.
Even so, I think of you as my own child.
So if you... could allow that, then I'd like you to think of me as a substitute for your mother, and I want you to rely on me for whatever you need.
Eva had hugged Ange as she said that.
To the young Ange, Mom was Mom, and Eva definitely wasn't... However, she understood the the meaning of those words, and the affection verging on sorrow.
But as would be expected from a child her age, she needed some time to accept this...
"Yes... Eva oba-san definitely said that."
"If you wish, from the bottom of your heart, for your real mother to return... then you musn't give the position of mother away to somebody else so easily. If your real mother loses her position as your mother, then she will never come back home."
BGM: Soul of Soul
If she accepted someone who wasn't her mother as her mother, then when her real mother came back, there would be no place for her to return...
"...Okay? For your real mother's sake, this is important, right...?"
"Ye... yes, Lady Witch... Aunt Eva is Aunt Eva. I will certainly never call her Mom. I won't think of her as Mom."
"Good. Aunt Eva said something else as well, didn't she...?"
But I think that this would surely sadden my child and your parents.
...Wouldn't it be alright if we could remember how to smile, if only a little bit at a time?
Of course, we can't do that right away.
We have to remember our forgotten smiles bit by bit.
That's why... I've decided that from today on, I'll try my best to practice smiling.
......Sounds weird... right?
Ange-chan, if you ever remember how to smile... please show me too.
I feel that if we do that, we'll be able to remember how to smile even more.
"Yes... Eva oba-san definitely said that."
"If you wish for your family to return, it's necessary to carry pain and sorrow strong enough to lift that wish to the heavens... Until that day, you mustn't show your smile."
"I mustn't... show... my smile."
"Yes, that's right. I'll be watching over you. If it seems like a smile is going to come upon your face, even once... I will accept that as a sign that you don't care if your family comes back or not anymore. I promise you that the miracle of them coming home will never happen."
"...I ...don't want that. I certainly won't smile...! Until Dad and Mom and Onii-chan come home, I will certainly never smile...!"
"You musn't feel joy... You must never forget the sorrow of losing your family. And stay away from the demon who will try to make you forget that, who will try and decieve you. Ushiromiya Eva will try and crush that resolve many times with her sweet words. But you must never listen to them, alright...? Eva is a demon who will try and steal away your family for all eternity. *giggle*. No, she actually DID STEAL THEM AWAY."
"M-my resolve won't be broken...! Until my wish is granted, I certainly will not listen to anything Aunt Eva says...!! So please, grant my wish, Lady Witch...!!"
"Sure. As long as you continue to keep your promise... then one day I will definitely appear before you and grant your wish... It's alright. I will definitely not ignore your pure-hearted resolve... *giggle*giggle*giggle*."
The next morning...
Ushiromiya Ange made it crystal clear to Eva.
They were... the magic words that would bring forth the miracle of her family coming home.
And, the words were a curse that the cruel witch had made her say.
From that day on... those words stole away Ange and Eva's smiling faces for all eternity...
"...Isn't this kind of Tanabata more wonderful in a witch's eyes? ...*giggle*. Ahhahahahahahaha... Aah, I won't get bored. At least not for a while."
These kinds of Fragments exist... but what do you think?
All of you who love these ill-natured stories, this kind of suffering is much better, don't you think...?
Is this good enough? Beato?
All I really did was make it a tale more suited to my role.