“Hey, Subaru…can we stop doing something like this?”
“What are you talking about, Miss Rabbit? Quitting right now would be like throwing away my manhood.”
“I don’t think you would lose it, and who’s Miss Rabbit?”
Such peaceful words were being exchanged at Roswaal Manor at noon. A boy and a beautiful girl were exchanging words in a slightly hushed and mature manner. They were Natsuki Subaru and Emilia, respectively.
They were close to each other, moving without making a sound in the hallways of Roswaal Manor, which was where they were currently staying. They were carefully executing a stealth operation—to be precise, they were following their target.
“We’ll be in trouble if our target notices us. Emilia-tan, be as quiet as possible… And you smell really good when you’re this close. Are you wearing perfume or something?”
“I’m not wearing any, but…leaving that aside, I don’t think there’s any point in doing something like this. Even if we act foxy like this, we’ll be spotted immediately.”
“Nobody uses the word foxy in this day and age…”
They exchanged their usual lines, but Emilia looked angry this time, surprisingly. Subaru thought her angry face was cute, too, and at the same time glanced at the end of the corridor again—
“Ah, damn it! We’ve lost our target! Emilia-tan, dash! Dash while being sneaky!”
“Huh? Wha? Dash?”
“It means to run while being sneaky! Watch and learn!”
“I can’t do something skillful like…woah, Subaru, you are good at the sneaky dash.”
Emilia hurriedly chased after Subaru, who was ahead of her demonstrating a peculiar running skill without making a sound. She desperately tried to mimic his running style, but it wasn’t so easy to do.
Her effort is heartwarming, but for now, our priority is to pursue our target. He saw a long tail disappearing around the corner in the corner of his eye. It was a familiar-looking long tail that must have belonged to their target, a calm and laidback cat spirit—Puck. They didn’t know where Puck went after leaving Emilia’s side and flied freely around the mansion. To find that out was their goal—to conduct biological research on the great spirit Puck’s behavior, that was the duty they were given.
“Oh, Subaru! Look, I was able to do the sneaky dash! Look, I can be reaaally quiet!”
“You improved really quick!?”
Even if you didn’t make a sound while running, you wouldn’t be able to tail someone if you didn’t talk quietly.
It was a desperate tailing scene by two people who needed to look the definition up in a dictionary.
It all began after they’d finished today’s breakfast and were taking a post-meal break.
Usually, the weird events at Roswaal Manor began with Subaru’s words, and mostly when everyone in the mansion had gathered for meals. There was an unspoken agreement that everyone at Roswaal Manor would eat together unless there was a grave issue. It was a loose rule, something that a normal family had, but Subaru liked rules like that at Roswaal Manor. He believed that the more people you shared meals with, the better. In fact, many new discoveries were often made during meals, and it was also fun. The atmosphere where everyone chatted freely was a far cry from the formalities of your typical nobleman’s house, and it was a time in which you could relax a bit. Also, him having questions often lead to events during such meals, but his question this time was a very simple one.
And that was—
“Well, what does Puck do when he isn’t with you, Emilia-tan?” Subaru asked while tilting his head in the dining room after they’d finished eating and washed the dishes.
“Huh?” Emilia, who was having her after meal tea was surprised when she heard Subaru’s words. There was no sign of the cat spirit in question on her beautiful hair or on her thin shoulders. And that was something to be expected since Puck floated out of the dining room alone a moment ago after letting Emilia know.
Emilia widened her eyes at that question.
“No, you see,” Subaru said with a shrug. “It’s a known fact that you and Puck have a contractual relationship, and I know that Puck is usually by your side, but…there are times when he moves around freely like this, right? So do you know what he does during that, Emilia-tan?”
“Puck when I’m not around…?”
Emilia looked as if she had never thought about it when Subaru asked. It seemed like her policy was to not interfere in Puck’s affairs, for better or worse, and to not impose her will too much in Puck’s activities during his free time.
“Well, I think the key to making a pet live long is to not stress it out, but I also think they need some tough love sometimes.”
“Ah, Subaru, you are making fun of Puck, aren’t you? Puck would definitely be angry if he heard that, so don’t say something like that,” Emilia chided as she lifted her eyebrows sharply, which was unusual for her, after her contracted spirit was treated like a pet.
“Listen here,” Emilia said after lifting her finger at Subaru. “Puck is a lot more mature than you think. I’m sure that he’s doing something reaaally important when he isn’t with me. Puck is, of course, always working hard for world peace.”
“What’s up with that really vague kinda understanding? It’s like the opinion of a kid who doesn’t know what their parent does but thinks that they are probably doing something great!”
Subaru had no idea what his father did for a living when he was a child, but he had such a vague trust in him. He still didn’t know much about it even though he’d grown up. But now he thought that it was something that equaled world peace since it was a job that was enough to sustain his wife and son.
“In any case, since you don’t know about it, I need to get serious and start investigating. I don’t have to work until the afternoon today, so I might as well go after him.”
“That’s in bad taste… I think it’s better not to do it.”
“You can’t stop something that’s already set in motion. And Emilia-tan, aren’t you a bit curious deep down? I’m not saying that he’s doing something bad, but if he is really working hard for world peace then it’s more of a reason to see what he’s doing.”
“Let’s go check it out!”
“...Ok.” Emilia, who easily gave in when pressured, got persuaded by Subaru while in a state of bewilderment.
This was how the two of them rushed out of the dining room and how they started following Puck.
—Luckily Puck, who had left the dining room before them, was found immediately, and the tailing began. However, it couldn’t be said that the subsequent pursuit of Puck was very fruitful. It wasn’t that they had lost him or that he had found out about them following him, the problem was what he was doing.
“Puck is scratching the wall of the mansion with his claws, but why do you think he’s doing that?” Subaru asked.
“He’s probably checking the mansion’s durability,” Emilia answered. “Puck is patrolling around checking things like that to make sure that everyone stays safe. He’s amazing.”
“To me it just seems like he’s taking care of his overgrown nails.”
“Oh, Subaru, look! Puck started moving really fast! He might have found something.”
“He rushed into the restroom with such speed, so isn’t it that? The thing called ‘Toilet High’ where cats get really energetic before and after using the toilet.”
“That’s not… Oh! He came out just as fast. We are going to lose him!”
“He’s flying around the mansion quite energetically. Is something happening in here…?” Subaru wondered.
“I get it!” Emilia exclaimed. “Since we had a witchbeast commotion before, he is checking whether there’s an opening in the barrier or not. Or he’s secretly putting up a new barrier just in case…”
“To me, it just looks like he is searching for a place to sunbathe, or he’s patrolling his territory.”
“He went into the kitchen!” Subaru shouted.
“He probably, has something reaaally important…”
“He got a small fish from Rem and came out eating it.”
“Snacking! He’s going to get fat!”
“Is that what the issue is?
While they were keeping an eye on Puck, he did whatever he wanted to since it was his free time—a bit too free.
I mean, as far as I have observed, his behavior is completely like that of…
“A cat… And it looks like he’s a housecat that has completely forgotten its wild instincts.”
“I was thinking about it, but I don’t think Puck’s nails grow, so he doesn’t need to file them. He doesn’t need to use the restroom either. And he just needs my hair and shoulders to be his territory. See, Puck isn’t weird.”
“You found something to cling to, and now you’re trying like mad to refute everything I said.”
Usually, Emilia often lost against Subaru’s arguments, however, she couldn’t afford to lose when it was about her only family. She kept pushing back, and she was certainly trying to make a point with her words.
I didn’t doubt it till now since Puck was really acting like a cat, but Puck is a spirit, and I don’t think he needs to do all the things that cats have to do. It’s like Emilia said, there might be a reason behind him filing his nails and being in a toilet high.
“But, snacking in the kitchen doesn’t really mean anything, right?”
“Ma…Maybe he is saving up his energy for an important task later?”
It seems like Emilia also doesn’t think that it was very convincing since her sentence ended with a question. And the idea of him having an important task later also seems fishy. And if Puck curls up and starts sleeping, then even Emilia would have to admit defeat. But—
“—Alright, I guess it’s almost time,” muttered Puck, who had become full after swallowing the small fish he’d received.
His voice was deep, and his side profile looked tense—the atmosphere had changed.
“Could it be that he really has something to do…? Is it something like fighting other cats to be the boss cat?”
“There’s no way Puck would fight stray cats. Puck’s territory is inside my body. It’s in here.”
“You made an unintentional erotic comment, but Puck is on the move now. Let’s go after him.”
As Puck floated up with a serious look and started moving in a straight line, they began pursuing him. The way he flew, glancing around, clearly showed a sense of tension and caution that he didn’t have before. Seeing things like that made Subaru and Emilia tense.
Eventually, Puck arrived in front of a room with his hair standing on end due to his cautious state. Subaru and Emilia looked at each other after realizing whose room it was.
“Maybe Puck has some business with you, Subaru…”
Subaru and Emilia looked at each other and tilted their heads. From everything they’d observed so far, they had a pretty good idea as to how Puck behaved. But they weren’t sure how it connected with him visiting Subaru’s room.
“───” Then Puck put his tail on the doorknob without saying a word and slowly opened the door. It was surprising to know that he used his tail to open doors, but it was even more surprising that he had snuck in without saying anything.
Naturally, Subaru’s mind recalled the recent witchbeast commotion.
—He recalled the difficult relationship between him and the twins that had flared up during that. At the time, the two of them suspected my origins and were watching me to see if I was a dangerous person, so maybe Puck is cautious like that.
“Subaru…” Emilia softly called Subaru, who had looked down anxiously with listless eyes.
He came back to his senses after hearing her voice and shook his head, forcing a smile. “I’m fine,” he said. “Let’s go clear things up.”
I’m prepared to work hard and clear up the misunderstanding if Puck is suspecting me. I was able to do it with Rem and Ram, so I can do it with Puck too—
He was just about to put his hand on the doorknob and step into the room since he was thinking of talking with Puck. He heard a rather loud rustling noise from inside the room.
Hm? It’s sounds somewhat familiar, but I wonder what it could be? Subaru tilted his head in wonder. And then it hit him.
“Hey, you! You good for nothing cat.”
Puck, who was frolicking on the bed, got startled when Subaru entered the room. Puck looked back with his round eyes widened, and only half of him was visible for some reason—it was because he was playing around in the plastic bag from the convenience store and making rustling sounds.
“I was wondering what was up with that serious look, and then this turns out to be the punchline! You are a cat! Just a cat!”
“Hey, don’t startle me,” Puck replied. “It’s my private time now.”
“If we are going to talk about private things, then this is my private room! What are you doing playing with someone else’s plastic bag? You are totally a cat!” Subaru shouted at the unapologetic Puck, criticizing his suggestive attitude.
Then Subaru looked back at Emilia and pointed his finger at Puck. “Hey, look, Emilia-tan! This is his true form! He’s a cat!”
“No, maybe he’s just trying to do something great using your white bag… I’m sorry, I can’t do this.”
“Emilia-tan gave up on supporting him!”
At the end, it developed into a situation where Emilia gave up on supporting Puck and the ordeal ended noisily.
After everything was said and done, they came to the conclusion that ‘Puck during his free time is free!’
—After that, Emilia started to be seen making Puck report what he had been doing during his free time at the end of the day. Seeing that, Subaru thought that it definitely looked like a pet being disciplined.