“Right, so grandma Hibi has died.”
I nodded as I sat down in the rocking chair where grandma used to sit.
Uncle Bill, who was sitting in the chair opposite the table, was in tears, and Aunt Marge nodded with a gloomy face.
“She was old and had a chronic illness.”
“You had a hard time taking care of her until her last moments, Cornelia.”
I smiled lightly at uncle Bill’s words, filled with sadness and mourning.
‘Did I Didn’t I worry my grandmother until her last breath’ No matter what you think about it, I was a very bad granddaughter.
As I fiddled my fingers without replying, aunt Marge changed the subject.
Likely, she noticed that I was having a hard time with this topic.
“You’re going to hold grandma Hibi’s funeral here, right”
“Yes, resting in her homeland was her last will.”
It must have been a difficult journey from the capital.
I’ll let the Chief know.”
[tl/n: Chief as in the Village’s Chief]
“Have a meal at my house.
I took care of your house, but I didn’t stock up on supplies.”
My house came into sight only when aunt Marge said so.
As she had expressed, the home we returned to after two years was old, but it was spotless.
The furniture was not broken or neglected, and even the bedclothes and blankets were washed and cleaned.
I looked around the house for a while.
It was so well-organized that I could move in right away when I returned.
“Thank you, auntie.
You took good care of our house.”
“Well, it’s just—it’s a given.
Aren’t you cold You used to be cold a lot when you were little.
Shall I put the fireplace”
“It’s okay, I have a shawl.
It’s spring now.”
I wrapped the shall over my shoulder and smiled.
Uncle Bill spoke to me in a bright voice.
“After a sudden visit to the capital, she cleaned your house, I tell you! I’ve repaired all the broken furniture! Ah, I threw away the small chair.
A leg was broken and there was nothing I could do about it.”
‘Capital’ I opened my eyes wide at his words. ‘Did aunt Marge ever come to the capital’
Aunt Marge felt my gaze and suddenly poked uncle Bill in the side.
“Honey, Cornelia is hungry.
Go home and get some sausage and soup.”
“Shall I bring some meat, too We’ve smoked some last time.”
“Yeah, that too.
Cornelia, wait a minute.
This ol’ man showed off some good skills yesterday.
You’re very lucky.
You’ll eat this ol’ man’s food!”
“Oh, come on! Go! If you have time to brag, you’d rather go quickly and bring it.
How long are you going to starve this child”
When uncle Bill, who had been pushed by aunt, finally closed the door and left, we were both silent.
She avoided my gaze, and I stared at her without saying a word.
‘I don’t think so.
Don’t tell me auntie heard some of those malicious rumors… it isn’t that, right’
“Auntie, have you ever been to the capital”
It was me who broke the silence.
At my question, aunt Marge’s gaze fell to the floor, and then she slowly nodded.
“…Yeah, I went for a while because of work.
And… I also heard the rumors.”
‘So you heard…’ I felt a rush of dizziness and my body faltered.
I only wished that my grandmother and the villagers never heard those malicious rumors about me because I knew they would be hurt more than I was.
My mind raced frantically.
An excuse—somehow, an excuse.
By any means I… I have to make an excuse.
Auntie shouldn’t be startled because of me—
Suddenly, a warm feeling wrapped around my shoulders.
When I looked up in surprise, aunt Marge was looking at me with resolute eyes.
“Come back.” Saying so, she hugged me tightly again, and her large hand patted my back as if to soothe a baby.
“When I heard the rumors about you in the capital, I racked my brain, thinking about what I could do for you.
In the end, it was only some cleaning, but I felt you may feel more at peace if you still had a home to come back to, so…”
“You’ve been through so much.
I’m sorry I couldn’t help you.”
[tl/n: a moment to clean up my tears.
My baby Cornelia…]
I trembled in tears as I shook my head at Marge’s words.
It was something I wanted to hear.
I wanted those words so badly.
But I wanted to hear them from other people, not auntie.
I’m sorry I couldn’t help you.
I’m really sorry for making you feel lonely all this time.
‘I… wanted to hear those words from Debron and my comrades.’
I bit the inside of my mouth tightly to keep from crying.
However, tears fell from my eyes and soaked the hem of Marge’s clothes.
“You’ve held it in well, Cornelia.
Grandma Hibi will be so proud of you, too.
And by now she’ll be at peace across the river in the open field.”
I hope so.
I do hope she’s no longer sick and that she’s comfortable on the other side.
You don’t worry about me, just relax…
Eventually, tears flowed again, and I nodded, burying my face in her arms.
It was a day that I couldn’t stop crying.
* * *
My grandmother’s funeral was held the very next day after I returned to the village.
It was sudden, but thanks to the majority of the townsfolk stopping their work and helping out, there was no shortage of procedures for the funeral.
I took off the mourning clothes I had been wearing from the capital and put on the mourning clothes that aunt Percy had brought for me.
The mourning clothes prepared by the Astorf household’s butler were made of the finest cloth, but I liked the slightly clumsy mourning clothes brought by auntie more.
Everyone in the village came to the funeral, which began as the sun began to set.
“Grandmother Hibi was born in the Yorkben village, and has always helped people with deep wisdom…”
There was no time to call for a priest, so the village chief read the farewell address instead.
I looked down at my grandmother’s coffin, listening to the village chief’s farewell speech, whose voice became smaller as if the sadness was choking him up, and the cries of the villagers coming from behind.
It was the last time.
This was truly the last time I could see grandma.
I could feel the hand of aunt Marge supporting me.
The old woman’s hand, which had always felt reassuring, was also trembling in sadness.
“Please rest in peace.”
After the village chief’s clumsy but sincere farewell speech, the coffin where my grandmother was sleeping went down to the ground.
The villagers covered it with soil, and I also gently covered it with shaking hands.
In a way, it was a funeral that took place a while after my grandmother passed away.
People’s cries were heard louder, and I looked, a bit dazed, at the monument with my grandmother’s name on it.
The third daughter of Milton and Leah, Makiel’s mother and Cornelia’s grandmother sleeps here]
The engraved name was short because commoners couldn’t have a last name.
A name with only four letters.
I stared blankly at my grandmother’s name.
Grandma wasn’t very fond of her short name.
That’s why I always called her ‘cool grandma’ or ‘Hibi grandma.’ My grandma gave me the name Cornelia when I was born.
After much deliberation, she came up with a common name, but my grandmother and I were satisfied.
I gently stroked the end of my grandmother’s name.
‘I wanted to put a last name after this…’
For various reasons, I offered my help to the warriors.
What moved me was Lucen’s words that becoming a warrior could give me a noble title, and my grandmother would be proud of me.
If her granddaughter was called a hero, she would be very happy.
And, if a last name were added to her name, she would be a little prouder when introducing herself.
The idea of my grandmother happily introducing herself after receiving a wonderful last name made me take action just by imagining it.
But in the end, it was all in vain.
I shouldn’t have left grandma.
After the funeral was over, the villagers stayed by my side and then returned to the village one by one.
Everyone told me to cheer up, and brightly invited me to eat at their homes.
I nodded my head as I looked at them.
After a long time had passed—enough for me to wonder how long I stayed there—and practically everyone had returned, I sat blankly in front of the gravestone and collected myself.
The last person left was aunt Marge.
I looked up at her and smiled arduously.
“Thank you for helping with the funeral arrangements, auntie.”
“Of course, that’s what I’m supposed to do.”
The middle-aged woman smiled at me as if reassuring me.
I was able to hold the funeral just after I arrived, thanks to Marge’s and the villagers’ full help.
Even though it was late at night, this old woman knocked on people’s doors.
The woman sitting next to me cautiously opened her mouth.
“Cornelia, you’re not going back to the capital, are you”
I looked at her and nodded.
Auntie nodded back and turned her head towards my grandmother’s tombstone.
A cool breeze ruffled her light brown hair as the sun set on the horizon.
As if relieved by my answer, aunt Marge smiled and nodded again, then she continued the conversation while looking at the monument with sad eyes.
“Yeah, stay here.
Living alone would be a tad inconvenient, but I’m right next door.
I may be a bit fuzzy and talkative, but I’ll help you out–”
As I called her quietly, her gaze fell on me.
I thought about it over and over again on my way here.
‘I won’t return to the capital.
But, then, what Can I stay in Yorkben’ Surely, there was only one right answer to that question.
“I’ll be leaving Yorkben.”
I looked at aunt Marge and struggled to bring out the words.
My discord account is momentarily out of service() so I’m sorry for not announcing updates there!
A moment of silence for our lovely Hibi.
May you be in peace, cursing all those who did wrong to your amazing granddaughter.
I wanted to add this just in case.
Cornelia calls auntie and uncle everyone there because it’s a common word to address older people.
I could use ‘mister,’ or ‘ma’am’ but it sounds too distant.
Cornelia knows everyone and thinks of them as a family, so- yeah ()