We saved Keith from being kidnapped by dark magicians. My brother was alive - my heart was full. He was home, safe, and I was by his side just as I always was. Please, open your eyes, Keith.
Then he stirred, and his arms were around me. I held him close, nestled between his neck and shoulders. We breathed together.
"I love you," Keith said. "Not as a brother. I love you as a man loves a woman."
Suddenly, I couldn't move. My entire body froze like ice.
"Keith ... " I whispered. My brother's honey-coloured hair fell over his kind eyes. He glanced down at our joined hands, then raised his head. His look pierced me like a sword. I felt his warmth where we were joined together, the crinkled flannel of his pyjamas that matched my own favourite pair, the heat of his body below.
I ran from the room.
I lay on the dirt. I huddled below my favourite tree. My dress was stained green and heavy with earth, but I didn't care about a ruined dress at all. I remembered my grandmother's words from my other life, We can talk to the earth. The earth was my magic and Keith's magic too. I listened to the dirt, but it did not tell me anything to help me.
Keith is my brother, and I love him. I loved Keith from the moment I saw him. He was an adorable little eight-year-old boy, and I'd been a seventeen-year-old otaku chick on the inside, so naturally I fell for his cuteness. Now we were both seventeen. Or was I really older than that? I felt like a teenager on the inside, but maybe I just had a childish personality!
My childish personality caused him problems. I'd thought that when Keith was kidnapped, he ran away from home because he was tired of always looking after me. He always showed me how to behave at parties and made sure I did my schoolwork, always picking up after me, carrying spare sweets for me in his pocket at all times. I was used to always having Keith by my side, so I guessed I took him for granted and he got frustrated with that. But Keith didn't think that way about me at all.
Keith's box of memories ... he really loved his sister. The cascade of memories swept over me. We needed an object dear to Keith to cast a spell to find him, so we got the box out of his room. He kept every present his Big Sister gave him, even my silly 'Wish-Granting Ticket' I wrote on his tenth birthday when I couldn't think of anything else to give him. Even some old wooden splinters ...
Yes, I remember the splinters from that old door. When we were eight, Keith locked himself away from me and took all the keys and I didn't want him to be lonely. So I grabbed the axe from Grandfather Tom's shed and broke that door down!
Mother sent me to bed without supper ... but Keith snuck me cream pie in his pocket. That boy always looks after his big sister ...
My stomach rumbled at the thought of cream pie, but Keith was much more important to me than cream pie.
Keith is more important to me than sweets or snacks. I looked at my hands in the dirt. Does that mean I ... all along? Could it have been?
Looking back, I'd never spent a day away from Keith's side until he was kidnapped. I'd never imagined my future life without him. Yes, maybe I could be exiled from the kingdom - it happened in the second bad ending for Keith's path - but I kept telling him, "If you fall in love, Keith, remember I'm cheering you on! I will be supportive of your love no matter what!" I thought that if Keith and Maria knew I was cheering them on, then when they fell in love they wouldn't need to exile me and I could live with them in Claes Manor.
No wonder that Keith was so flustered and red the more I told him I'd cheer him on! My own cheeks were blistering just thinking about it. Keith wasn't in love with Maria, and Maria wasn't in love with him.
You've grown up so incredibly handsome, Keith! All the girls will fall in love with you! I'd teased him.
And he was ... yes, Keith was handsome. He was so beautiful looking, he would make any woman feel weak at the knees. Soft, wavy hair, the sweet eyes of a hero, and a beautiful smile. And Keith was a kind person who always respected women, so he was really irresistible.
Have I ... have I all along been falling for him too?
We were adopted brother and sister, so that was a bit weird, but we were really distant cousins. Keith was the son of a branch member of the Claes family. In the rules of this world, it was okay for adopted siblings to become engaged to each other. In my old world, it would have been strange in real life ... it would only be okay in a R-18 game, and I'd never been allowed to play those. I didn't know anything about R-18 things.
I was a villainess, only destined for bad things to happen to me! In the Fortune Lover game I remembered from my old life, nobody loved the villain Catarina Claes except for her parents. She mercilessly bullied the protagonist and was either killed by the chosen lover of the protagonist, or exiled from the kingdom with nothing more than the clothes on her back. I had a scary villainess face with narrow blue eyes and a terrifying glare. How could anyone fall in love with me?
But Keith loves me. He's always loved me.
I had to look at myself in the mirror. I wasn't the villainess after all. I looked at my hands and sleeves, all coated with dirt and muddy tears. I'd graduated magic school with no doom flags. The Fortune Lover game was over. I wasn't dead, I wasn't exiled, and Keith's kind behaviour to me wasn't just being nice to his annoying villain sister.
Keith loved me as a man loves a woman.
What comes next? What could possibly come next?
The dark magician who'd kidnapped Keith was still on the loose. There were still dangers to face! Life was extremely confusing to me.
And, in times of confusion, who did I always go to?
... I always went to my beloved Keith.