Release date: 11 2009 Today, November 23rd, is Labor Thanksgiving Day. In Japan, it is a holiday for commemorating labor, but to children, it specifically feels like a day to thank their parents for working hard for their families. In kindergarten and elementary school, in order to show thanks to their parents, many students make gifts during arts and crafts time...
"Uu! Maria made a Thanksgiving Day present at school! Look, it's this, uu!"
"Ooh, that's a nice envelope! 'Thanksgiving Day Present,' huh. I like how straightforward it is!"
"You decorated it very nicely. Did you make these with origami? The flowers you pasted on are very well made."
"It really conveys your sincerity. So, what's inside of it?"
"Uu! Look, see. It's a coupon for shoulder massages~! It lasts for a month. Whenever Mama wants, Maria will tap her shoulders!"
The expiration date was in a month. It could be used once a day, for thirty minutes.
However, it could only be used before 9:00 at night. So in a way, it also contained a message from Maria, asking her mother to come home early. The envelope and the coupon, which were decorated in a surprisingly diligent and fun-looking manner, were something of a masterpiece. Battler, George, and Jessica were all deeply moved by that sincerity...
They were in a coffee shop in a metropolitan area. George had proposed that it would be nice to have fellow cousins together for tea once in awhile, so they had all gathered there. Rosa had also been with them for awhile, but she had an arrangement to go greet someone from work or something, and she had entrusted Maria to them and left. Then, secretly. Maria had showed everyone her plans to give Rosa a present that day.
"Today, I'll give her the present when we're eating dinner. Uu!"
"I'm sure she'll be delighted... I forgot about those kinds of feelings a long time ago."
Jessica embarrassedly scratched her head, averting her eyes. ...Maria's earnestness was a bit dazzling. The same went for Battler. He could only laugh awkwardly at Maria's pure smile.
...Nearly everyone is grateful to their parents. However, during their rebellious period, those feelings become distorted. ...Afterwards, having those kinds of feelings seems almost embarrassing, so nothing changes.
"...Maybe...I should go buy some kind of present, too..."
"George-aniki, you brought some luggage with you. Could that be presents for your parents...?"
"Yeah. I got Father a new wallet. ...I'm not sure if it's because of some kind of superstition, but he's been using a really old one for awhile. Recently, his change purse has gotten really worn-out, and it seems like coins often fall out of it. I thought it was about time he owned a new one. ...I'm also giving my mother a gift for Thanksgiving Day. This, which I picked up on the way here today, is my present to Mother."
"Hmm. What is it?"
"A kitchen knife. Mother is obsessed with kitchen knives. With brand name ones, that is. I'm sure she'll like it."
When seated at the family conference, Eva appeared very shrewd and faultfinding. But at home, she was a good mother who excelled at cooking and gardening. She especially loved creative cooking, and would often invite the women of the neighborhood over for house parties, in which she would proudly announce her newest works and receive praise. It was certainly a fitting gift for that "witch of the kitchen."
"A kitchen knife, huh. It seems pretty high class for a present. How much did it cost?"
"P-Presents aren't about the cost. ...I guess this was about 200,000 yen."
""T-Two hundred thousaaand?!""
"Uu, is that a lot?"
George, as part of his studies of social affairs, worked as an apprentice at Hideyoshi's company. Because he was also learning about how to handle money, he received an amount of money that could pass for a salary. Of course, he properly kept that money in savings, and was taught to be frugal whenever he did have to use it. This was surely the results of what he learned from his parents.
"W-What I don't want you two to misunderstand is that the price isn't what matters. Between my present and Maria-chan's present, I don't believe one is inferior to the other. What's important is our feelings."
"Uu! Feelings are important!"
"How many chances do you get to show gratitude to your father? Not as many as you'd expect. I think Labor Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful event."
Battler and Jessica exchanged glances. Battler had been through a lot with Rudolf, and even now their relationship was still strained...but even then, he still felt a sense of respect for his parent. But he hadn't thought it was something worth conveying enough to say out loud. It was the same with Jessica. Even though she definitely felt gratitude towards her parents, she hadn't thought it was something significant enough to say out loud. To those two, George's words stung a bit...
"Presents are very simple magic anyone can use."
"Yeah. It's sad that feelings of thanks can clearly be seen by the person who has them, but the other person can't see them at all. So, you know? If you give them a form that can be seen, you can express them. It's really simple and wonderful magic."
"That's true. The cost of the gift doesn't matter. It's about thinking of what would make that person happy, going to find it yourself, wrapping it up, and giving it to them with words of thanks. That whole process takes the form of a present, so it can be handed to another person. ...I think it makes sense to call that magic."
"It really is magic...! You know, when I use this magic? Mama will definitely be happy and smile! And she'll finish her work early, come home every day, and we'll eat dinner together! It's true! It'll really work! Uu!"
"That's for sure. If she gets this massage coupon filled with such sincerity...I'm sure she'll come home in a flash."
"...Okay. I'll get something for Dad, too! And if it works to break tensions between us...ehehe, maybe I'll be able to ask if I can buy a guitar."
"You've got some ulterior motive there. Well, that's still way better than not giving him anything at all."
"That's right. Rather than justly do nothing at all, I think it's better to hypocritically do something. It's fine even if you think of it as earning favors. Well, even if that's your intention, why don't you try returning favors every once in awhile? ...I think that could develop into something wonderful."
"Magic to make your family happy. Uu!"
"Should we stop by the department store after this?"
George laid out the suggestion, and Jessica and Battler exchanged glances. ...Yeah. Something like that might be good once in awhile. The two smiled and nodded firmly. There were various stores in the station building. As long as their wallets were up for it, it seemed like they could buy anything they wanted to.
"Battler, what are you gonna buy for Uncle Rudolf?"
"...For the old man, huh. ...I'll buy him a necktie to stay on the safe side...is what I'd like to say, but... He's really picky about his necktie preferences. He complains a lot about the neckties he gets, saying the pattern is bad or they're unsophisticated or whatever."
"People do have different tastes in neckties, after all. Still, if it's a present, I'm sure he'd be happy with anything."
"Rather than something related to fashion, maybe I should just get some kind of daily necessity. At least that way it'd be useful, and he won't be able to complain."
"Ah, yeah, I can understand that. I don't really get Dad's taste in clothes at all, so I want to look for something practical."
"Uu! What's important is feelings. Taste doesn't matter."
No, it was exactly as Maria said. Battler and Jessica, while scratching their heads, looked around the various stores on each floor.
"...I'm thinking something like this might be good."
"Ooh, a padded kimono. Not bad. But I wonder if that'd suit Uncle Krauss?" (TN: The actual term used is "dotera"; it's a thickly padded over-kimono worn in winter for lounging. You know that thing Konata from Lucky Star wears when she's at home? It's that.) "My mom's really strict. Outside of our own rooms, she demands we all present ourselves inside the mansion as if we were in public. ...But 'cause of that, our shoulders get really stiff. Sometimes Dad secretly complains about it. Though whenever Mom comes by, he instantly shuts up."
"Hahahahaha, Uncle Krauss is pretty cute."
"Uu! Padded kimonos are great! During the winter, Mama wears a padded kimono and jersey, and relaxes while eating mandarin oranges. Uu!"
"T-That stylish Aunt Rosa does...? T-That'd be a pretty shocking sight..."
"I think padded kimonos are wonderful. Because that desire to lazily relax at home is something that can only be shown to your family."
"That's for sure. This kind of thing is something you should receive from a relative."
"Which one would look best on Uncle Krauss? Uu uu! Maria likes this pink one!"
"I-I don't think Dad would wear that... ...Maybe there's a more dignified one that Dad wouldn't be ashamed to wear."
"I dunno, I think a nightgown might be more suitable for Uncle Krauss than a padded kimono."
"No. I think he would be happy to receive something a little more modest and family-oriented. Besides, there's a special meaning to it because Jessica-chan decided on it herself. I think it's an excellent choice."
"Well, I guess that's true. ...With Jessica, you'd imagine her going for a padded kimono over a nightgown."
"W-What?! What's that supposed to mean, jerk?! More importantly, what are you gonna do, Battler...?!"
"I've already decided. Well, tentatively."
Battler had already decided what to look for. After buying Jessica's padded kimono, they headed to the place where it would be sold.
"Uwaah. I don't know anything about this type of stuff..."
"Battler, what are you buying? Electric shaver?"
"Even if he doesn't look like it, the old man's got really thick facial hair. He's always complaining about how if he gets lazy, his sideburns will end up growing into a beard like Grandfather's."
"Ahahaha. I see. If you give him this, he won't have to worry."
"But when it comes to consumer electronics, there's a ton of variety, right...? A girl like me has got no idea which ones are the most efficient."
"Well, I believe efficiency is usually proportional to the cost. It's the same for a woman's cosmetics, right?"
"Not at all, seriously. It's not just about cost, you have to pay attention to the maker and compatibility, too. ...Cheap stuff might not be good for your skin, so it's really tough for both your skin and your wallet."
"This is usually where I'd say that a lawnmower would be more than enough to take care of the old bastard's beard, but, well, today is special. Once in awhile I can show some gratitude for his work and buy something serious."
As a result of worrying about various things, Battler found a slightly outdated model on display and succeeded in a relatively cheap purchase. With that, Jessica and Battler had been able to obtain gifts of everyday gratitude for their fathers without incident. The two felt a bit shy, and smiled, thinking that it might be alright to go shopping like this once in awhile...
"Teacheeer. Don't tell me that this story's just gonna have everyone handing their presents over to their parents in a smiling happy ending?"
"Y-Yes, that is the case. Are you dissatisfied with something...? Don't you think it's a wonderful story about the children thanking their fathers for their everyday work...?"
"Uu. Beato, Maria thinks it's interesting."
"No way, no way! I'm telling you, that's too boring. Right, Ronove, shouldn't there be some kind of twist?"
"Pukuku...! Well, that may be enough for MARIA-sama, but contrary Milady desires a contrary ending."
"H-Hey...! I'm just seriously trying to make the story interesting for Lady MARIA's sake."
Virgilia was supposed to be telling a good story. However, Beato, who realized there were no surprises to come in the tale, grew bored and grumbled. Ronove seemed as though he had foreseen that reaction, and chuckled while confirming something with his pocket watch.
...Incidentally, Beato had grown bored about one minute sooner than the time Ronove had wagered upon in his mind.
"An ending like that, where everyone just smiles and lives happily ever after, doesn't have any punch to it. It's not interesting! All of the theater-going witches who have been watching my game are probably waiting for me to appear and stir things up! Right, MARIA? Right, Ronove?"
"Well, I wonder. Milady doing as she wishes will probably yield the best results."
"Uu! Maria wants to hear Beato's story! Let me hear, let me hear!"
"*cackle*cackle*cackle* That's how it is, Teacher! I shall fiddle with this story a bit."
"Y-You mustn't...! This is a beautiful story depicting the children's feelings of gratitude towards their parents on Thanksgiving Day...! You mustn't defile it in a strange way...!"
"C'mon, don't be so uptight. I'm just gonna give it a bit of a twist."
"H...Honestly, I suppose there's no helping it. ...Only a bit. But it must still have a happy ending, alright? If it does not end with everyone safely handing over their presents and becoming happy, I will be angry, understood?!"
"Fufufufufu! I have obtained Teacher's permission! Then I shall tamper with it, this story, this game board! Don't worry, I won't disturb it too much. I will just make a pleasant little alteration."
"A pleasant alteration...? What is it? A-Are you planning to switch the presents with some odd, grotesque object, o-or something that will teach bad things to children?"
"Uu? What's going to teach bad things?"
"I wonder what~ Teacheeeeer??"
"U-Um... N-Nighttime tools that would inappropriate for children...! This booklet is for all ages! I have already seen through what you're planning!"
"Kuhihihiii~ I wonder what you mean by nighttime tools~? Non non, relax, Teacher. Even if you wouldn't think it, I have graduated from such vulgarity. I will not do something so boorish...!"
"T-Then, what trick are you planning to pull?"
"A worthless prank. In a fickle accident, the presents the four have prepared will be switched up. There is no problem with that, is there?"
"C...Certainly, it could still end in a pleasant manner that way..."
"Uu. Will the story be interesting?"
"Of course it will. I shall tell the continuation. Listen closely, MARIA!"
There was nothing suspicious about the four cousins' presents. When they reached the wrong people, there would be a bit of confusion, but it wouldn't be anything more than a charming little happening on a holiday... Virgilia checked to confirm that she was not planning to do anything more than that, and when Beato nodded in return, the game board was turned over to her... Maria eagerly badgered her for a continuation.
"Well then, here is the Thanksgiving Day story according to the Golden Witch Beatrice. Let the second half begin!"
"This is for you, Mother. Thanks for everything you do for our family."
"Thank you. I wonder what it is this year? What did you get, dear?"
"I got a wallet! A big one!"
"My, how stylish. What a wonderful wallet. Did you pick it out yourself, George?"
"Yeah. Father is pretty youthful, so I thought one made for the younger crowd might be good. It's the Velcro type that's in style right now."
"Wahaha! Well, I won't lose ta my wallet! What did ya get, Eva?"
"I'm going to open it now. I'm looking forward to seeing what it is."
"Try opening it in the kitchen. I'm sure it'll be useful for your cooking."
"Hmm? *giggle*giggle*, I wonder what it is. I wonder if the hodgepodge is cooked yet. Well then, I'll go stealthily open it in the kitchen."
At Eva's house that day, the family was having a friendly feast together. And after eating all the delicious food, there was a hodgepodge prepared for them. Eva took her present and went to the kitchen. And while chuckling to herself, she carefully removed the wrapping paper...
At that moment, the meta space background overlapped the scene, and Beato appeared.
"My apologies, Eva~! This is where you are actually supposed to get a high class kitchen knife. But with that setup, it would end with nothing more than an 'Ah~ Thank you~ I'll use this knife to work hard on my cooking from now on~ ☆' You shall receive Jessica's present!"
Snap! Meta space end.
"Ah... Hmm... Isn't that nice."
What she found inside...was the padded kimono Jessica had chosen for Krauss. It was of a cool color and it looked a bit cheap, but it was perfectly sensible as something to wear at home. ...How had something so bulky had come from such a small gift box? ...Well, that issue was made vague with mysterious magic.
"This is just perfect for the coming season. ...Oh my, the color even matches with my mittens. *giggle* That George, he's got such good taste. ♪"
With that said. Eva put on her mittens – which, by coincidence, happened to be of the same color – and the padded kimono, and returned with the pot the hodgepodge had been cooked in.
"Ooh! That looks great on ya. Just perfect fer the comin' season!"
"Thank you, George. I'll treasure this as I wear it. It can get chilly in the kitchen, so I'm truly happy you gave it to me."
Eva smiled sweetly in response to the wonderful present. Hideyoshi also praised it, saying it looked great on her. However, while George smiled politely, he felt an uncertain sense of guilt.
H...Huh...? That's definitely the padded kimono Jessica-chan bought... H-How did this happen...? While smiling bitterly, George questioned the heavens...
As a result. Naturally, the present Jessica had given to Krauss had become something different. But whose present had been given to Krauss...? Because she had been too shy to hand it over to him directly, Jessica had stealthily left the present outside of Krauss' study. In the first place, there had never been a tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving Day in Jessica's home. So to both Jessica and Krauss, it was a very sudden present. Part of her had thought he would be surprised, but when she thought about why she had only gotten him a present this year, the goal of coaxing a guitar out of him had seemed so transparent that she had felt embarrassed. Therefore, she thought it would be just fine to leave it outside of his study.
"...Dad went up to his study awhile ago... I wonder if he noticed the present..."
Jessica was sitting in the parlor watching television, but she wasn't paying much attention to it. She was nervously wondering if he would dashingly come down wearing what she had given him. Ah...he might use the inner phone line to call me in my room and thank me over the phone... I wouldn't want that. Ah, but, in that case, maybe I should return to my room and wait for a phone call...
"What is the matter, Jessica? You are fidgeting about in such an agitated manner."
"A-Ahahaha...! I-It's nothing. H-Has Dad already gone up to his study?!"
"He went up some time ago, so I believe he will come down soon. ...Let us enjoy the black tea you bought, Jessica."
Natsuhi entered the parlor, pushing the cart with the tea set placed upon it herself. Compared to the servants who she strictly guided on how to serve tea, Natsuhi's tea was a little bit strong. ...The tea leaves made it a bit bitter. But even so, Jessica didn't dislike the tea her mother brewed herself. It was a time for the family to enjoy tea together without any outsiders. She certainly didn't mind the servants, but being alone with her family was a bit relaxing... That's when Krauss would come down wearing the padded kimono she had given him as a present... Krauss would awkwardly say, "Jessica, thank you. It's unusual for you to give me a present..." Then Jessica would say, "N-No, it's no big deal... S-Sometimes on, um, Thanksgiving Day...I t-thought it might be nice to show you my gratitude, Dad." Then Natsuhi would say, "Regardless of whether or not it is something appropriate for the next head of the Ushiromiya family...when we're alone as a family, a thing like this can be pleasant." And with that kind of atmosphere, it would become a faintly warm teatime. And then, when the mood was good, it would end with: "Actually... I kind of want to play an instrument..." Jessica got ahead of herself and daydreamed about how things might play out. Then, the sound of Krauss' approaching footsteps could be heard.
"Sorry to keep you waiting."
"Dear. Here is the tea Jessica bought. Let us enjoy it."
"...Uh. ...Dad. ...Um, d-did you like the present...?"
"Yes, thank you. It was wonderful."
"...Ah. ...Is that so..."
"My, did something happen?"
"Yes, I received a Thanksgiving Day present from Jessica. ...It was quite a heartfelt gift."
Krauss wasn't wearing the padded kimono. Whaaat, isn't it obvious that this is where he should read the atmosphere and come in wearing it...! Hmph, hmph, hmph! I used up my scarce spending money to buy it, and had a brilliant plan to get a guitar out of that padded kimono, geez! Hmph, hmph, hmph! Jessica grumbled inside her mind.
"Ah~ My shoulders are stiff."
"...So what. It's because you don't exercise enough, isn't it?"
"H-Hmmm~ I'd be pleased if you would massage my shoulders..."
"Your shoulders are stiff 'cause they're too cold. W-Wear thicker clothes. Like a, uh, p-padded kimono."
"A padded kimono is merely a coat for commoners. Rather than that, isn't there something more suitable for my shoulders?"
"Hu...Huh?! What the hell do you mean by 'suitable'? Shut up!"
Jessica furiously stormed out of the room. Krauss watched with a vague sense of guilt, wondering where he had erred in this failure to communicate with his daughter.
"H-Hmmm... O-Oh, I see! It was written that it must be before 9 PM. That was careless of me... Tomorrow, I will try again..."
"What are you talking about? Is it about the Thanksgiving Day present?"
"Y-Yes. ...Actually, I received this from Jessica..."
What Krauss showed to her while dejectedly dropping his shoulders...was the massage coupon Maria had intended to give to Rosa.
Jessica's present had come to George's place. Maria's present had come to Jessica's place. ...All of the presents were being shifted around. George and Jessica were puzzled at how they could've mistaken the presents with their completely different sizes and packaging, but it was magic, so there was nothing that could be done about it. At any rate, they could do nothing but hope that they presents they had given would be received positively...
The electric shaver Battler had bought was certainly a bit cheap, but it was a fairly big purchase for Battler, considering his spending money. Sly Battler was upfront about that with Kyrie, and had proposed that they make it a joint gift. He succeeded in getting her to shoulder half of the cost. But unfortunately, Rudolf had an important meeting scheduled with a foreign guest for the next few days, and was staying overnight at his company. The timing of a present is important. Therefore, Kyrie had asked one of the company's secretaries to pass the gift along to Rudolf. Thanks to that, the next night, a present box with a message card from Kyrie and Battler was placed on Rudolf's president seat.
"Oh, this must be what Kyrie told me about over the phone."
After returning to the company president's room late at night, Rudolf found the present box that had been placed on his desk. When he opened the card, he found a short message written in Kyrie's methodical handwriting. [To Rudolf-san, with our everyday feelings. Kyrie & Battler]
"Whew. That sure hits home. ...I wonder what it is. I'll value it."
When he lifted up the box, he noticed it felt fairly heavy. In the world of men, there's an impression that size = quality. Rudolf was slightly shocked that he had probably been given an expensive gift. Rather than feeling happy, he imagined they would expect a return gift of the same quality from him. Not to mention he'd need a gift for two people. He shrugged his shoulders and let out a sigh. As he unfastened the ribbon on the gift, the phone on his desk rang.
"Hello, it's me. ...Hm? Got it, transfer the call. This is a matter of absolute secrecy. Don't pass on any calls or messages for awhile. ...Hello. ...Yo, honey. I said I'd see you tomorrow, didn't I? I told you not to call me here too much. ...Hahaha, you idiot, I'm telling you to sleep well tonight. You won't be sleeping much tomorrow night, okay?"
Rudolf was wearing a lewd grin, or maybe he was just smiling lively at the other person over the phone. ...This damn man, he's caught himself another woman AGAIN. You could call it his life's work at this point. He couldn't exist without seeking out beautiful ladies during his business and seducing them. Even while cheating, he didn't forget his responsibility to his family. He wondered if being able to balance those two things was the true way of cheating. And, while talking over the phone, he unwrapped the packaging and took out the fairly heavy small wooden box that was inside. Hey, hey, what the hell is this.
"Hehehe. If you get serious, you lose. It's a relationship we both accept, right? That's right, I like that indifference... ...I'll come wearing the present you gave me a couple days ago. I'm looking forward to it."
"Ufu~ Of course~ Tomorrow, for one evening, I'll make you forget all about your wife~ ☆"
"You're saying some pretty cute things~ ...whoa."
He opened the small wooden box. There, he found a sharp, pointed...object that shined a dull silver. It was so sharp...that it seemed that just pressing it lightly against his fingertip would cause beads of blood to surface. Eh... Ah... A ki...kitchen knife...? ...Why...would they give this to me...? As Rudolf broke into a cold sweat, he reread the message on the card.
[To Rudolf-san, with our everyday feelings.]
With our everyday feelings. Withwithwith.
"Darling~ What's wrong, you got all quiet."
"A...Ahahahahahaha! U-Uh, sorry?! Um, well, you see, actually, some urgent business came up for tomorrow?! I-I'll get in touch with you later, so, uh, d-don't contact me for awhile...! You see, uh... I'm gonna get kiiiiiiilled!"
...It seemed the present George had bought had found its way to Rudolf. No matter what kind of present he received, because his daily conduct had been bad, he probably would have misinterpreted the message.
Well then. In this case, we'll be ending with Maria. What present did Maria hand over to Rosa?
"President~ You've got a call from your daughter. Should I hand it over?"
"Please do. That Maria, I wonder what she wants. I told her not to call me when I'm at work. ...Hello, Maria? What's wrong?"
"Uu! Mama! Sorry for calling during work, sorry for calling during work...!"
What on earth did she want? Maria sounded like she had a festive reason for calling during work, and didn't seem like she was in an emergency. Rosa raised her eyebrows a bit.
"...Maria. Mama is really busy preparing for a presentation right now. I already told you, didn't I? I'm so busy right now that I probably won't be coming home for awhile...!"
While watching Rosa's side of the conversation, the designer employees started whispering among themselves.
"Is the President saying she still won't go home~?"
"She's not even busy at all. Once in awhile she should be faithful to her daughter and go home."
"She's got another new boyfriend, right~? You know, the chief producer of that design office, Akihito-san. ♪"
"Aah, that kind of wimpy guy?"
"But you know, that guy's got a pretty thick beard, doesn't he? I mean, it's always totally grown out by evening~"
"It's probably all prickly when she tries to go for a kiss, gross~! Kyakkya!"
"Be quiet! If you have time to gossip, show me the rough design of that front slit white dress! And don't forget about the purple ribbon on the chest!"
Covering the receiver with her hand, Rosa yelled with a blood vessel popping up.
"Ah, I'm sorry about that. ...Mama's just so busy with work. What do you need? Make it quick, okay?"
"Uu! It's for Mama who's always working so hard and comes home late. Today, when you came home for lunch, I put a present in your bag."
"Huh? In my bag?"
Rosa happened to be near home that day, and had decided to be together with Maria at least for lunch. Maria had wanted to give the present to her then, but Rosa was in a bad mood and kept insisting she had to leave, so she had secretly slipped it into her mother's bag. ...In truth, Rosa had returned home as a sort of atonement. She was going to be with her new lover for the next few days, so he had intended to return home to fill in that gap of time. ...And she had impressed upon her daughter that she wouldn't be returning for a few days because she was busy.
...Haah. I'll acknowledge that I'm a terrible mother a hundred times over. Slighting my daughter, and keeping secret relationships like this...! But you know, Maria. I may be a mother, but I want to be a woman, too! I still want to experience passionate love, alright?! Aah, I'm not telling you to understand that. When I'm with Akihito-san, I forget all my hardships and remember all the happier times! It may be true that he has a thick beard. It's so thick I'd like him to shave it three times a day. Ah, but they also say that guys with thick beards can be the strongest men~
"...Maria. ...What is this...?"
"It's your present from Maria. ...Kihihihihi."
That thing was...no matter how you looked at it. An electric shaver for men.
"What...is this supposed to mean...? Are you giving this to me...?"
"I thought it might be the perfect present for Mama right now. Right? You're happy, aren't you? Use it. Use it, okay? Making Mama happy is Maria's greatest pleasure. So make sure you use it, alright? Use it, okay? Use it, okay? Kihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihi!"
That present certainly was mysterious. Even though Rosa had insisted she was so busy, she started coming home right on time after that day, and ate dinner with Maria every night. The end.
"Uu! Beato's story is amazing! Maria became happy. Mama came home! Uu uu uu!"
"See? Wasn't it? I mixed things up, but it all ended happily, right?!"
"It is effective. Although twists were added, the story was concluded properly."
"...A-Ahem. I-In other words. 'Because they picked out their gifts with sincerity, it didn't matter if different things reached the recipients'...is the moral of the story. ...So the important thing is heart..."
The way Virgilia evaluated the story as though it made sense, without worrying about how messed up it had become, was a bit uninteresting. She acted satisfied that although the story had been a bit unbearable, at least it had ended nicely. Right then, Beato suddenly sat upright, and conjured a present box out of thin air.
"Tada! ♪ Alright, here is my present to you, Teacher. I thought that on Thanksgiving Day, perhaps I should give gifts to Ronove and Teacher for always looking after me!"
"...W...Well... I certainly never expected you to give out presents... ...I-I am both happy and bewildered."
"I also received one from Milady earlier. Although I still have not opened it."
"Yes. I have already given Ronove his. Open it without worries, Teacher! Come on, come on, come on."
"...I see. Beato, I already know how this is going to end."
"Hm~? What are you talking about?"
"The presents given to me and Ronove must have been switched. You expect me to be shocked when I receive a gift meant for men. Ending things with a bang...is what you're aiming for, is it not? The things you think of are so simple that I can always see right through them. ...Well, still."
Even with such a modest prank prepared. Beato's feelings put into the present were the important thing. There was no kind of gift that could be more precious than the feelings of thanks themselves. She had even just said that herself.
"...Well, I know what is going to happen. I'm sure I will find a red loincloth meant for Ronove or some such. ...What is this? A book?"
Because there was a book cover on it, she couldn't see what the title was. However, when she opened it, she saw various monochrome illustrations that looked like stained glass art inside. ...This is...
"...A coloring book, is it."
"Yeah, that's right. It's not one for kids, alright? It is a coloring book for adults, featuring masterpieces from all the ages. There are watercolor pencils I purchased attached...!"
"Oh my, I'm jealous. I have wanted that for a long while."
Ronove smiled. She suddenly felt guilty for suspecting Beato must have had something up her sleeve and keeping up her guard... Virgilia could do nothing but lower her head in a way that denoted both gratitude and apology.
"T-Thank you... Yes, this seems like something you would do... You made me think that the present must be some odd object, then gave me this wonderful gift instead. ...I was completely fooled by your scenario..."
"Uhihi. You give me too much credit, Teacher. I merely gave you Ronove's present by mistake."
"Thank you, Beato. ...I will enjoy working in this coloring book. ...Hm?"
When she closed the book, the book cover slipped off. There, the book's title was written like this:
[Fun Brain Activities! A Coloring Book for the Middle-Aged. A Way to Always Stay Young!]
In a rare occurrence, both of Virgilia's eyes...opened. A strong, lukewarm breeze blew through, and thunderclouds rolled into the sky of the Golden Land...
"Teacher, don't get me wrong, okay? That was what I intended to give to Ronove. It's not like I really gave it to yooooooooou. Teacher, didn't you say it yourself? Even if the presents are switched, as long as the gifts were picked out with sincerity, the feelings will still be passed on~ ☆"
"...By the way, Ronove. What did you receive?"
"Well, I wonder. ...Oh my. If isn't the hyaluronan drink that is so popular right now. Kukukuku, I am most grateful. Lately, my knees have been aching when I go up and down the stairs, pukuku!"
"What is it, Teacher?"
"Come, try to remember."
"My respect for the elderly?"
"In what way were you killed?! Come forth, Giant Soldier Battle Line. Line up, Bits of Steel. Bury her into the ground, Divine Spear! Drill her into nothing, tear her apart and reduce her to ashes! Come forth, Chiester Sisters Imperial Guard Corps, sew this rude disciple to nothing with your 100 golden arrows! Mugiiiiiiii!"
"Bring it on, I'll just kill you fiiiiirst! Oryaaaaaaah!"
And things ended with a bang.