Taisho x Alice episode 3: Shirayuki

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First route is Shirayuki (CV: Aoi Shouta). A beautiful boy who thinks that he’s the ugliest in the world. As his expression hardly changes and he hardly speaks, others see him as cold. However, he’s very observant and indirectly shows concern for others. It’s rare for him speak ill of others, but he himself probably doesn’t realise it. This follows from the PrologueAlso, this route contains elements which might be triggering.

Once upon a time, there was a mysterious boy. He had snow white complexion, and a delicate body. His lips were as red as an apple. The beautiful boy seemed like a prince out of a storybook, and stood out wherever he went. The prince like white snow, showed up at the lake while everyone else is asleep. Despite the chilly wind and the white mist coming out from his mouth each time he breaths, the prince like white snow, gazes at the lake, unaffected. His body is as cold as ice, and his words and attitude are blunt. He always looks at others with a frosty gaze. And while thinking over it with a rational mind, the truth is spotted. That’s because his heart is transparent like a mirror.

Silver-grey hair brushes by, and glacier-like eyes look at her piercingly.

Yurika: Hey, brother. Won’t you tell me? The story of the prince like white snow.

“One day, my mother called to me and told me that I was a good kid unlike the rest. So I can’t play outside, as everyone else is a wolf. There’s no telling what bad things wolves will do. Even if they approach you, ignore them. When mother is not around, I have to properly watch the house. If anyone comes by, I can’t let them in. I promised her to do so. Kind mother. Beautiful mother. My mother whom I loved more than any flowers, stories, or beautiful things. But mother, I broke your promise. I went to a nearby lake, and returned to my house in the dark woods. I asked if anyone was in, but strangely there was no answer even when I knocked. It’s the only house standing in the area, there’s no mistake that it’s my home. I carefully opened the door, surprisingly it was not locked. It was dark inside, with only the moonlight shining in, just enough light to see inside. My body froze the moment I looked at that. What am I looking at? Is this a dream? An illusion? If this is a dream, perhaps I have gone mad. Or perhaps, I have been mad since a long time ago.”

(End of monologue)

The season is early winter. The mirror world is a tourist spot in a cold district. But due to global warming nowadays, the afternoons are warmer and the temperatures at night are bearable if you were an outer layer. And so Yurika is wearing her favourite white dress, and running an errand for her brothers. Her worrisome brother told her to return home before sundown, but the sun is already setting now. She’s rushing back now with her shopping, but it would still take her about 20 minutes to reach home so it’ll be nighttime by then. It’s her fault, as she took a detour and went window shopping. She won’t be able to avoid a scolding.

She can cut through the forest, but her brother Akazukin warned her that it’s dangerous at night. The forest near the lake is convenient as a shortcut to the town area and people often use it, but there’s anyone hardly around at night. If it were summer, there would be many people using the villas. But all the villas are empty when it’s winter. In other words, it’s dangerous because it’s dark. Yurika looks up at the orange-dyed sky. She thinks that she can make it across the forest before the sun completely sets. She apologises to Akazukin as she breaks the promise and enters the forest. However, she trips and falls, sending her shopping splattered all around the ground. Wondering what she tripped on, Yurika spots a red apple.

There isn’t a single apple tree in this forest, so why is it here? Obviously, someone must have dropped this. As she tries to stand up, Yurika discovers that her hair is caught in a nearby branch. To think that she would be losing time like this, after having broken her promise. It hurts to get up, but it’s also difficult for her to untangle it while lying down. Breaking the branch itself will be the quickest, but it’s tough for her to do so when it’s behind her. While she’s wrestling free from the branch, before she realises it it’s nighttime. Never mind getting scolded, she doesn’t even know if she can safely return home now. Is this punishment for her sin?

The moment Yurika is praying to god, she hears someone’s footsteps. Thinking that she’s saved, she looks up and sees a pretty-looking boy. His complexion and hair are white like snow, she almost thinks that an angel has descended. He kneels down, asking if she’s alright. She even finds his voice beautiful and clear. Embarrassed, Yurika answers that she’s fine. While she must look rather foolish, her heart is beating quickly due to the romantic situation of a beautiful boy  gallantly saving her. However, he acknowledges her reply and coolly turns away.

Yurika: Aah! Wait!! Please wait!! I’m not alright at all!!
Boy: …………what is it?
Yurika: My hair is caught in a branch……
Boy: ……do you want me to remove it?
Yurika: Yes please!!
Boy: …………

The boy approaches her and gently untangles her hair……not. He grabs the whole branch and breaks it, telling her that it’s done. Yurika snaps herself out of it, and thanks him for his help, with the branch still hanging in her hair. He whispers that it’s nothing, and walks away. Even when he’s gone, Yurika still remains dazed. Her cheeks are flushed, and her heart’s beating quickly. Soon, she finds herself uttering at how wonderful he is. In her 17th winter, she has finally encountered her destined prince. Upon reaching home, she shares her encounter with her 4 brothers. The eldest brother, Cinderella, finds her story lame as always. The third brother, Kaguya, remarks that she has her own dreams too. He asks who the prince is, and she sighs as she didn’t even get the chance to ask his name. If only she had chased after him and asked for his name and where he lived, instead of spacing out.

Kaguya: I see……by the way where did you meet this destined prince?
Yurika: In the forest!
Akazukin: ……in the forest?

The second brother who had been quietly eating till now, calls her name with a stern look. Unable to make up any excuses, Yurika admits that she did walk in the forest. She reasons that it would be faster to reach home, and it was still in the afternoon. But Akazukin reminds her that it’s winter and so it gets dark fast. He emphasises that the forest is dangerous at night. She apologises, though he replies that one wouldn’t need the police if everything could be solved with an apology. His words all ring with truth……though she did meet her prince.

Akazukin: There are scary wolves lurking in the forest! What will you do if anything happens!?
Yurika: Umm……fight the wolf?
Akazukin: You’re a lady!! There’s no way a lady can win against a wolf!!
Cinderella: ……that’s enough. Akazukin. She has already reflected.
Akazukin: But……
Kaguya: Yurika-chan won’t go there anymore right?
Yurika: ……Probably!
Cinderella: Oi.
Yurika: ……no.

Kaguya pats her head, while Akazukin stares at her sternly, as if he hasn’t lectured her enough. Yurika shirks away and apologises for worrying them all. It can’t be helped that he got angry, since she broke the promise. And he is worried for her after all. Akazukin sighs, and remarks that the past can’t be helped. He tells her to be careful from now on. She thanks him with a smile, and he blushes and looks the other way, glad that nothing happened to her. The eldest brother Cinderella, second brother Akazukin, third brother Kaguya – all of her three very wonderful older brothers treat her very kindly.

Cinderella: ……and……in any case, someone do something about him.
Yurika: Nn?
Gretel: Impossible impossible impossible impossible impossible impossible impossible……

The youngest brother is sitting and muttering away with vacant eyes. Everyone draws away at the eeriness of the sight. When they wonder what he’s whispering about.

Gretel: Sister is going to marry me in the future, so it’s impossible for her to fall in love at first sight with her destined prince. In the first place, if it were just his face, I’m good-looking too and fall in the same category. A white prince is just ridiculous. Is green no good? Is green unpopular? Green is a healing colour. Is that it. Is it fine if I wear bleach?
Yurika: …………
Kaguya: …………
Cinderella: ……well, let’s leave Gretel as he is.
Akazukin: Yes……

The rest of them return to their meal. The eldest brother Cinderella, second brother Akazukin, third brother Kaguya, youngest brother Gretel, and eldest daughter Yurika. The five siblings happily live together in a cafe in the mirror world. Partially due to the good location in this tourist spot, their cafe receives many customers. Everyday is busy, and sometimes noisy, but everyday is fun and meaningful for her.

The next day, Yurika uses her lunch break to sneak into the forest to meet her prince. After all, there’s a saying that the culprit will always return to the scene of crime. So she opens up her lunch box and waits anxiously for her destined prince. But after an hour, she finds herself packing up and returning to the cafe. As expected, life doesn’t go as planned. Back in the kitchen, she gazes at the apple in her hand. While it’s to be expected, she can’t hide her disappointment. Akazukin sharply observes that she’s thinking about her prince. She acknowledges this. Not wanting to further worry him though, she changes the topic. She remarks that the herbs and mountain vegetables he had picked are being well-received by customers. He notes this, and shows her the winter strawberries he had picked today. Surely the jam made with this would be delicious.

She thanks him, and is sure that Gretel would be delighted. Akazukin hopes that would be the case, as he glances to the corner of the room. Since this morning, Gretel has been hugging his knees while chanting “Sister” like a curse. Akazukin sees that he must have been shocked to see her find someone she loves. Yurika laughs nervously, unsure if she should feel happy or afraid. Determined to kindly encourage him as his older sister, she calls out to him.

Yurika: ……um, Gretel-kun. It’s true that my prince is a very important, significant, necessary and indispensable existence to me, but that doesn’t change the fact that Gretel-kun is my important brother alright?
Gretel: You say sweet things, but I know that you left me in such a state, and went to the forest to search for that prince during your break time.
Yurika: …………

She can only wonder if he has clairvoyance or is a stalker. She tries to improve his mood by offering to buy anything he likes. She has a bad feeling, but agrees to anything – including a 1,800 yen brussels waffle, 2,000 yen special parfait, 1,000 yen original blend tea. Only then does her bribe work, and he agrees to forgive her. In addition, he asks which day will be good for a date. At that moment, Cinderella enters the kitchen and tells them to get to work. Someone knocks into something then and a bowl of flour is overturned. The white flour rises up like smoke, sending them into panic mode.

Cinderella: Cough cough!
Gretel: I-I can’t see anything in front……
Yurika: Hyaa! Just now, who was it that touched me weirdly!?
Akazukin: W-weirdly!? Buhaa!!
Kaguya: What happened!? I could hear you all from the hall……and came…………………really, what happened?
Yurika: Ahaha……cough

When it’s past 9pm and everyone else has returned to their rooms, Yurika sneaks downstairs. As she slips towards the entrance, Akazukin questions where she’s off to. She replies that she’s off to throw away the rubbish, but he answers that he has already done that. Having seen through everything, he sighs and says that she must be going to see her prince in the forest.

Akazukin: Even if you go to the forest, the chances of meeting your prince are low. But it feels more refreshing to take the initiative as opposed to not doing anything and just waiting right?
Yurika: Bingo!
Akazukin: It’s not bingo! I’ve warned you time and again that the forest at night is dangerous right? Yet you still plan to go to the forest at night!?
Yurika: Uu…………

They look at each other in silence, till she quietly apologises and heads back upstairs. He stops her, saying that he will accompany her to the forest. He’s familiar with it, so it should be safer. He can’t bear to see her looking so down. Akazukin pulls the hood over his face, hiding his embarrassment. Delighted, she leaps into his arms.

Akazukin: Gyaaaaaaaaaah!! D-d-d-d-don’t hug me!!

Akazukin carries a torch, while she follows him from behind. The dark forest, the occasional howling, and the sound of dry leaves, all give off a horror atmosphere.

Akazukin: ……that’s why I said. That the forest at night is dangerous.
Yurika: ……I’m relying on you!
Akazukin: Seriously……

Despite his words, he blushes and sounds happy. She knows that he actually likes being relied upon. He offers to lend him his red hood as it’s cold. Yurika is taken aback, since he is truly the equivalent of his red hood. If that is removed, he’d just be a good-looking guy. That being said, Akazukin takes out a spare from his basket and wraps it around her. She thanks him, while feeling a bit disappointed that she couldn’t see his rare side. He wonders what her prince was doing here at night though, and she remarks that it was probably to use this shortcut. He reckons that the prince may live nearby then. When asked for the prince’s special features, Yurika replies that he’s very white – both his complexion and hair. Plus he’s delicate-looking. She can’t help but break into a grin as she recalls his looks.

Akazukin: ……couldn’t that be a spirit?
Yurika: Eh?
Akazukin: Appearing in the forest at night in white, a normal person wouldn’t have the nerve to do that.
Yurika: If you say that, my dress is also white……
Akazukin: You’re not normal. Moreover, if you mention a white figure, you’d naturally speculate that it’s a spirit.
Yurika: That’s absurd……I mean, he saved me when my hair was caught in a branch……
Akazukin: Did he have legs?
Yurika: He did!

Just then, a black figure leaps out from a nearby bush. Yurika shrieks and it echoes throughout the quiet forest. After a brief silence, Akazukin chuckles and reassures her that it’s just a fox.

Akazukin: So a tomboy like you also has a lady-like  side?
Yurika: …………
Akazukin: So do you know now? Just how dangerous and scary the forest is……it was just a fox this time, but there is a possibility of ruffian or a pervert. Well, saying that there’s a spirit was just a joke but……

As he’s speaking, a white figure emerges from the shadows.

White figure: You are……
Yurika: There he is———-!!
Akazukin: He appeared———-!?
White figure: ……how noisy.

The snow fairy, or perhaps angel, frowns and covers his eyes. Yurika recognises him as her destined prince and he seems to recognise her too.

Destined prince: The one who kissed the ground right?
Yurika: N-no……well, half of it is true but, kissed the ground……
Destined prince: Then, the one who did tree planting play.
Yurika: I didn’t plant anything! Um, I’m Arisu Yurika! Thank you very much for saving me yesterday!
Destined prince: I see.

The conversation ends, but she’s determined not to leave things as they are. She asks for his name, only to be flatly refused. After seeing her perplexed reaction, he eventually answers that his name is Shirayuki. She finds it extremely fitting for a prince like him. Her comments puzzles him, and she awkwardly explains that it’s a nickname of sorts for him. He glances away, telling her to call him as she likes. He asks who the person behind her is, and she introduces her brother, Akazukin. The latter greets him, but pulls his hood down as if to avoid exchanging eye contact. Yurika finds his reaction unnatural, asking what’s wrong.

Akazukin: Ah……no……that……to think that the prince you were referring to was a woman gaah!!

As Yurika tries to process what happened, she soon realises that Shirayuki had thrown the book he was holding at Akazukin. As her brother groans, she quickly rushes to his side and sees that he has passed out. She looks up, only to meet Shirayuki’s frosty gaze.

Shirayuki: I’m a man.
Yurika: Y-yes! Of course, I know!!
Shirayuki: Arisu.
Yurika: Yes!! What is it prince!!
Shirayuki: Take the book there.
Yurika: Yes! At once!
Shirayuki: ……thank you.

Once she hands him the book, his cold aura vanishes. As they both grow quiet, Shirayuki walks away. When Yurika asks where he’s going, he asks if he has a need to answer her. She then asks if they will meet again, and he only replies that it’s depends on her.

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

After moving to the mirror world, it’s become a habit of his to go to the lake. It’s surrounded by greenery, but the clear lake is like a mirror which reflects everything symmetrically. The upside-down world is trapped in the lake. He likes looking at that world. If he stretches out his hand to pass through it, it almost feels as though he could leap into that world.

Shirayuki is thinking about her. He felt that he would meet her again, but to think that they met so soon. The feeling of exhilaration when he met her. And the sense of loss in his heart when they parted. He didn’t expect for his feelings to fluctuate like this with her. But he has a question. Why did she come to this dark forest with her brother in that red hood. She seemed happy when she saw him – could she have come looking for him? If so, he’d be so happy. The first time he saw her, he found her really cute with her fair complexion, white dress, fluffy brown hair – and her blue and red eyes which shine and sparkle like jewels. If his mother saw her, she would surely hug her and remark how she is like a princess.

When he returns to a house in the dark forest, he hears his mother calling for him. She appears relieved when he answers her. She asks where he went while hugging him tightly. He doesn’t mind asking honestly that he went to the lake, but instead he apologises. Shirayuki’s heart is quivering in fear, if his mother would abandon him. He fears spoiling his kind mother’s mood, and being chased out from his home the most. His mother reminds him of the promise, he can’t go outside as it’s dangerous. Seeing his favourite mother’s worried expression makes his heart ache, and he apologises again. When she asks if he went to the lake again, he remains quiet. She places a hand on his cheek, and he flinches, thinking that he would be hit. Instead, she gently strokes her face.

Mother: ……you’re my sweetest sweetest child in this world. So you can’t go outside. You know right, this is also for your sake. The outside world is full of wolves. They would eat the sweet, sweet you whole.
Shirayuki: ……I know. Mother.

He knows. How sinful it is to break his mother’s promise.

Back to Yurika’s POV

The next day, Yurika sighs like a maiden in love as she whispers Shirayuki’s name. Or rather, she has fallen heads over heels for her prince. She closes her eyes and recalls her prince’s beautiful figure. When she whispers his name once more, Gretel repeats it. She opens her eyes to see his grimace. Gretel = siscon, siscon = Gretel. She may be imprisoned if her meeting with her prince was made known to him. She hurriedly says that she meant “shiratama” (glutinous rice dumplings), and apparently that forced excuse convinces the sweets prince that Gretel is. He starts praising how wonderful it is, and praises her too for appreciating it. He asks if she has any requests for the next dessert, and she answers that kakigōri (Japanese shaved ice dessert) would be nice. That dessert reminds her of Shirayuki. But she thinks that it won’t be a good idea since it’s winter now. However, her suggestion makes Gretel even more excited as he remarks that it’s a luxury to eat that cold dessert while in a heated room.

Feeling inspired, he chases her out of the kitchen as he’s thought of a new recipe. Yurika reminds him about the cafe, he replies that Kaguya can just serve a 1,000 rip-off tea and the ladies will be satisfied. He shuts the door, ignoring her protests. The sweets devil is equally passionate about eating and making sweets. But he doesn’t let others see him making sweets. The siblings once discussed if he slips in medicine into the sweets. But nothing happened to them after eating it and the sweets tasted delicious, so that’s been dismissed.

Akazukin returns with some shopping, and places it on the floor noting that they can’t enter the kitchen. As Yurika looks at him, he frowns and immediately remarks that she can’t. Even without her saying anything, he knows that she wants to see her prince again tonight and for him to accompany her. She corrects him, saying that she’d wanted to go alone. He replies that it’s even worse, reminding her of how dangerous the forest is.

Yurika: Then, will you go together?
Akazukin: T-that………………in any case, you can’t means you can’t!
Yurika: Why?
Akazukin: That…………
Yurika: You accompanied me yesterday right?
Akazukin: …………

He seems to look pale, but stands his ground on not allowing her. When she accepts, he smiles and praises her for being a good kid. Yurika innocently asks him to pat her head then. If it were Kaguya, he would do so. Instead, Akazukin clicks his tongue and refuses.

That being said, she said that she understood, and not that she won’t go. While she feels bad towards her brother, she won’t be able to meet her destined prince if she just waits like a good kid. So Yurika sneaks into the forest at night. After about an hour of searching, she finds him sitting at the pier of the lake by himself. She’s thrilled to have met him again, but she tells herself to approach him coolly and calmly. As she’s about to greet him, her prince suddenly bends towards the lake. Yurika panics and shouts, dashing towards him and grabbing him by the collar. She loses her balance and falls on her behind.

When she asks if he’s alright, she discovers him lying on her lap. It was unintentional, but she savours the situation. Shirayuki replies that he’s fine, except for her pulling him. She apologises, and quickly releases him. He stands up and offers his hand to her, asking if she’s hurt. Yurika says that she isn’t, and takes his hand. She’s surprised at the cold touch, and also at how much strength his slim arms have as he pulls her up. She thanks him, feeling her heart beating quicker upon witnessing his manly side. She snaps herself out of the romantic mood, and tells him that it’s dangerous to jump into the lake at night. Shirayuki sighs, and says that he only wanted to gaze at the water surface.

She appears confused, so he takes her hand and shows her the world being reflected on the lake surface. It’s nighttime, but the moon is bright and their figures are reflected brightly. Yurika realises that she had jumped to conclusions and remarks that it is beautiful. Shirayuki’s expression turns sorrowful. She asks what’s wrong, but he dismisses it and looks away. Wondering if he’s angry, she apologises for her mistake. He replies that it’s fine, since it wasn’t deliberate. Thrilled, she restrains herself from leaping at her.

Shirayuki: ……we meet again.
Yurika: Yes! I’m really happy to have met prince.
Shirayuki: I’m also happy to have met you.
Yurika: …………

For some reason, he looks happy and lonely. He asks if she lives nearby, and she answers that she lives with her four brothers in a cafe on the shopping street. His interest is caught by her four brothers, and asks about her parents. She explains that her situation is a bit special, for they live separately. Her family has been working as hunters for generations, and they have one more house in the city. Her parents often travel around, and hardly return home. Shirayuki notes that her family is rich. She admits that they’re more well-to-do than average, and is thankful to her parents that she has her freedom.

Yurika: Where does prince live?
Shirayuki: ……in a small house in the forest.
Yurika: Then it’s nearby!
Shirayuki: …………
Yurika: …………

The conversation abruptly ends, and Yurika awkwardly looks at him.

Shirayuki: ……you’re rather loved.
Yurika: Eh?
Shirayuki: By your brothers. If not, he wouldn’t be watching over your willfulness like this right?
Yurika: ?

His sharp gaze looks past her, prompting her to turn around. She spots a red hood peeking behind a tree – it’s definitely Akazukin. She excuses herself, and walks up to her brother.

Yurika: ……brother?
Akazukin: Y-yurika-san……this……um……

Seeing him shirk away, makes her feel guilty. Yurika remarks that she isn’t angry, for she already knew. After all, one can easily notice when the forest is filled with dry leaves. He looks startled, and she thanks him, knowing that he was worried. Akazukin blushes, and she finds her brother’s reaction cute. With a big smile, she offers her hand to him.

Yurika: Then, shall we go?
Akazukin: Eh?
Yurika: What do you mean “eh?”. Both me and prince already know, so there’s no need to hide right?
Akazukin: S-sorry……it’s impossible for me in more ways than one……

His face turns pale, and he shakes his head. Akazukin admits that he feels an inexplicable sense of fear towards Shirayuki, and doesn’t really want to approach him. When Yurika asks if it’s because he threw a book, her brother remains quiet. It appears that he’s grown poor at handling the prince. She reassures him that the prince isn’t a wolf and won’t eat him up. But he screams when she grabs his arm. By the way, Akazukin is also poor at handling women so he starts acting suspiciously when being touched.

Yurika: I’m a woman but also your sister, so don’t scream!

When she returns to Shirayuki’s side with Akazukin, the latter cowers behind her when their gazes meet. She can only awkwardly apologise on his behalf.

Shirayuki: ……Arisu.
Yurika: Yes. What is it?
Shirayuki: Hold my hand.
Akazukin: Wha!?

She gladly does so, and holds his hand tightly.

Shirayuki: ……your hand is warm.
Yurika: Prince’s hand is cold and feels good!
Akazukin: This is an illicit sexual relationship!! Please let go!!
Shirayuki: Hey……will you come here again?
Akazukin: No that wo—-
Yurika: I will definitely definitely come tomorrow too!! No matter what happens I will definitely come here!!
Shirayuki: I see. Then, see you tomorrow.
Yurika: Yes! See you tomorrow!

He releases her hand and walks away, and she waves at him till his figure disappears. Left alone, Yurika asks what her brother meant to say. He looks the other way, dismissing it.

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

He likes reading books. Especially what the author sees and hears, literature which describes characters and incidents together with your imagination……in other words a “story”.  There is a phrase that “fact is stranger than fiction”. But he doesn’t think that reality is better than stories. It’s true that there are no choices in stories, and no matter what astounding developments occur in that narrow world, there is more consistency than reality. In other words, it is easier to accept that “this is that sort of world”. That’s why even if his emotions are strongly swayed after reading, soon his heart will return to being like a calm lake, that it’s someone else’s affairs. And to act like it’ someone else’s affairs, means that no matter the tragedy, it will appear beautiful.

Shirayuki starts reading the book he had finished from the start. Recently, he hasn’t had any new stories to read. Most of the stories he has are ongoing, but there hasn’t been any new publications these past few months. He has read this story numerous times. No matter how much he enjoys it, he can already distinctly remember what happens at which part. He takes another book from the many titles spread across the floor. But the book he happens to pick up is a boring title. The boy sighs, and lies down.

Just then, there’s a knock on the door. He knows who the visitor is, telling him to enter. It’s Ryoushi, with his ash grey hair and icy blue eyes. As always, Shirayuki finds it beautiful. Ryoushi presents the book he had just finished reading. The younger boy is unable to hide his delight and thanks him. But his tone drops when he sees that it’s a crossword puzzle book, as it’s one of those boring books. Despite Ryoushi’s fierce looks and strong physique, his hobbies are surprisingly indoor-type and gloomy. What Shirayuki wants are stories, but somehow he has trouble conveying it. The older man tells him to just say what books he wants then, instead of waiting for him to finish reading each time. But Shirayuki replies that it’s fine as he doesn’t really have anything particular in mind.

Ryoushi: Then don’t complain.
Shirayuki: I’m not complaining, I’m just giving my honest opinion?
Ryoushi: ……it’s better for you to correct that habit of yours, saying everything on your mind. You’ll only invite misunderstandings.

In other words, he’s pointing out that Shirayuki has a sharp tongue. But Shirayuki doesn’t think that way since he doesn’t have any ill intentions. Ryoushi observes how messy the room is, advising him to tidy up lest there’s no room to walk. Shirayuki thinks that it’s fine if he knows where things are, and allows him to tidy up if he wishes too. Ryoushi clicks his tongue, and starts cleaning up the room. The younger boy opens the book he received, and starts reading. Soon after, he asks Ryoushi how long it’s been since they met. The latter answers that it’s been about 6 years. He had called out to Shirayuki, who was standing in a daze near the lake at night. The pale boy remarks that he met a girl by the lake at night, and Ryoushi asks what she’s like.

Shirayuki: A strange girl. She looks stupid at a glance, but you can’t tell what she’s thinking so she’s enigmatic. If I were to relate her to a colour, it may be white.
Ryoushi: So she’s pure?
Shirayuki: Yes. Beautiful, pure, white and knows no corruption. She can be dyed with any colour, and paled with any colour. She is a girl with a strikingly unique colour.
Ryoushi: ……hmm. Just like snow.

Those were the same thoughts Shirayuki had about her when he first saw her too.

Back to Yurika’s POV

In the morning, Yurika is happily humming while preparing breakfast. Cinderella is turned off by her cheery mood, but she’s willing to let any comments slide for now like Bodhisattva. Kaguya asks if something good happened to her, and she’s about to answer him till she spots Gretel. She dismisses it, but her younger brother suspects something’s off. Since usually it’s a bad sign for him if she’s grinning away. He asks if something happened with her prince, and she calmly denies this. She exchanges gazes with Akazukin, and he looks away. She did tell him not to let anyone else know, but she is still a bit uneasy.

Yurika distracts him by praising the fruit punch shiratama dessert he made for breakfast. As expected, his mood brightens. Reading in between the lines, Kaguya joins in the praise too. She contemplates trying her hand at making it too, perhaps she may even give it to Shirayuki if it goes well. Cinderella is amazed at how they can eat something this cold, reminding them to think of the season. After all, customers who enter here would want to eat something hot. Gretel replies that this is only for self-consumption, and even he thinks of the season – contradicting what he had said yesterday.

She ponders over this point, wondering what would be good to serve. She grins widely when an idea strikes her, and Cinderella is put off once more. Yurika snatches his dessert in response, and he points out that she didn’t let his comment slide this time. Kaguya laughs, noting that even Bodhisattva can’t endure it a second time.

Later that night, Yurika offers Shirayuki the numerous dishes she made. But he immediately rejects. She turns to Akazukin, who follows up by vouching for her that her cooking is delicious. But her prince remains disinterested, and refuses to taste anything once more. Her brother pitifully tells her to give up, but she persists and suggests a warm drink instead. Shirayuki refuses again, completely shattering her courage and knowledge into pieces. She offers the drink to Akazukin instead, who willingly accepts. As she pours it into a cup, white steam emerges and a sweet smell tinges the noses. Curious, Shirayuki asks what it is. She proudly replies that it’s a hot fruits punch. The other two look puzzled. She explains that it’s her modification of the usual fruits punch, and the snow crystal-like items are actually shiratama.

Shirayuki: Why snow crystals?
Yurika: I thought it was cute……
Shirayuki: Shiratama snow crystals so Shirayuki……did you make it for me?
Yurika: Y-yes, well…………it’s cold outside right? So I thought of at least making something warm……
Shirayuki: Hmm……

It seems to have caught his interest, as he starts stirring it with a spoon. But he still refuses to take a bite. She wonders if he thinks that there is poison. Shirayuki smiles ever so slightly, commenting that it’s cute. Against her expectations, he scoops a piece up and tells her to open her mouth. Stunned, she slowly opens her mouth when he repeats himself again. After feeding her, he asks if it’s delicious. She says that it is, and urges him to try it too. But he insists otherwise. Shirayuki scoops another piece, and feeds her again. He asks about the cafe, and Yurika replies that business is well, inviting him to drop by anytime. However, he says that he won’t go. She’s perplexed, as she had thought that he was interested since he mentioned it. Once more, he offers her another spoonful and she gladly accepts it.

On her way back home, Yurika groans while holding her stomach. Akazukin remarks that it’s only natural since she ate that much. But she couldn’t bring herself to refuse him when he cutely offered to feed her. She apologises for eating her brother’s share too, though he doesn’t mind it. She’s disappointed that Shirayuki didn’t eat anything, and wonders if he doesn’t like homemade food due to hygiene reasons.

Akazukin: Is that so? I saw that he looked happy though.
Yurika: ……is that so?
Akazukin: Yes. He praised that it was cute.
Yurika: But that’s his opinion about how it looks right?
Akazukin: Eh? I thought that he was calling you cute as you brought the homemade food which you made for him……
Yurika: …………
Akazukin: ……Yurika-san?

Honestly, she never thought of that. His words seem convincing. However, Shirayuki didn’t take a bite. Akazukin reckons that perhaps he was full, or has no interest in food.

Yurika: That’s absurd! The world is overflowing with delicious food you know? Hamburg, quiche, marinade, ratatouille, pickled food, rice, bread! Even sweets are overflowing with different varieties from past present east west east west north south! For him to not be interested in all that?
Akazukin: What if he isn’t?
Yurika: Unbelievable……

Her brother points out that Shirayuki looks delicate, so it’s difficult to imagine him having a huge appetite. She replies that perhaps he has hyperacidity or gastroptosis, but he doubts since those cases are rare. Yurika admits that she can’t quite imagine a rounded prince……but then again she can’t help but imagine it.

Shirayuki: I’m full buu–! Carbohydrates are the best buu–! Curry is the drink, pizza is the vegetable, meat is the supplement buu–!

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In fact, seals and pandas are all rather cute with a bit of fat. So a rounded prince should be cute too. It was a pity this time, but he hopes to please her prince the next time. Akazukin advises her to take it easy while doing so.

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

As Shirayuki is reading in his room, Ryoushi observes that he looks happy. The former denies that anything happened, and the latter only comments that it’s good for him. Ryoushi is about to lit a cigarette, but stops. Shirayuki is surprised, since that’s the first time he didn’t help himself to a smoke. Ryoushi only remarks that he won’t smoke, he may cause a fire in this room. While his words seem offensive, Shirayuki admits that his words make sense.

Shirayuki: Shiratama……prince Shirayuki………………fufu.

He recalls the fruits punch she made for him. It was a lame pun, but he can’t stop himself from laughing as he recalls how she made it for him. It’s just too amusing. He resisted himself from laughing when she was around, but at least she isn’t here now. Ryoushi looks at him, as if having understood everything which happened. But it’s to be expected.

Shirayuki: ……hey, what does fruits punch taste like?
Ryoushi: Sweet.
Shirayuki: I shouldn’t have asked Ryoushi.

He had hoped for a more specific description. But her cooking doesn’t seem like the normal standard, so it may be fruitless to ask for just anyone else’s opinion.

Ryoushi: Then you could just taste it for yourself.
Shirayuki: ……if I could.
Ryoushi: You will eventually die at this rate.
Shirayuki: ……I know. But I can’t do anything about it.

Surely, even if it were her food, his body wouldn’t be able to accept it.

Back to Yurika’s POV

Yurika looks back on last night’s events while washing. She can’t imagine what to do in order to please her prince. Or rather, he is still full of mysteries. He doesn’t reveal much about himself. What can she do to learn more about his thoughts, desires? Since he is a man, what would delight a man……and so she calls Cinderella to her room, as the representative of men, to ask what she should do to make a man happy. He finds her question ridiculous, but she insists that it’s important for it has to do with her future. Her older brother easily sees that it’s to do with her prince – and that she has been sneaking out every night. He kept quiet about it since Akazukin has been accompanying her, but advises her not to overdo it.

She apologises to him. Even though she isn’t doing anything bad, it isn’t exactly lady-like to meet a man in the middle of the night. Seeing how Akazukin and Cinderella already know, she’s certain that Kaguya knows too. Yurika repeats her initial question, and he eventually answers that the key is to show her legs. He nods with satisfaction, but she is puzzled. Still, she takes his answer into consideration since he is a man. And so she goes to meet Shirayuki that night in her cafe uniform which is a mix between a kimono top with frills and a miniskirt.

Shirayuki: ……aren’t you cold?
Yurika: I’m fine!
Shirayuki: You have goosebumps.
Yurika: ……achoo!
Shirayuki: You’re sneezing.
Yurika: …………
Shirayuki: And the person in red over there is having a nosebleed while staring here.
Akazukin: Y-you’re! You’re mistaken!! It’s not like I’m interested in your bare legs……I am!!
Yurika: Oh……

It appears as though she has caught the attention of someone else other than her destined prince. In the first place, Akazukin should’ve been used to seeing her like this. Unable to withstand the cold anymore, she hugs her own knees. She can’t help but admire the women who expose their legs for fashion’s sake. Shirayuki also feels cold on her behalf, and advises her to wear something before she catches a cold.

Yurika thinks that she asked the wrong person, and turns to Kaguya this time, for he should be familiar with the subtlety of men and women. After all, he’s popular. He laughs nervously, and points out that she’s popular too. She can’t help but grin at his words, but quickly shakes her head and says that she wants to make the one she likes look at her. Naturally, he figures out that she’s referring to her prince. She asks when does a woman make his heart pound faster. He replies that it’s probably when he’s dating a girl, another girl sees him and comes baring her horns at him. Well, that’s a different implication altogether.

Kaguya gives another answer, saying that it’s when a cute girl smiles. He praises her when she shows off her best smile, patting her head. But he continues to praise her even when she smiles while showing her teeth, while showing a prim smile, and even when she gives a disgusting grin. Yurika gets annoyed since any one would do, but he states that it’s only because it’s her. She has to pinch herself to stop herself from grinning again. At this, she realises that it’s good to praise the other person. No one will hate being praised – probably. So that night, she keeps praising him. However, Shirayuki remains absorbed in his book. He only responds by hitting her, when she calls him cute.

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

Shirayuki confides in Ryoushi that she has been acting strangely – dressing up so thinly in this cold weather, praising him incoherently. The latter smiles, and says that she only wants to get along better with him. Shirayuki looks at him in surprise, while thinking that the older man resembles her yet doesn’t. However, he says that he doesn’t like that way of dressing, or being praised. Ryoushi remarks that she seems to have failed then. The words “fail” make Shirayuki’s heart ache. Because he also knows the pain of not being able to live up to someone else’s expectations. However, he admits that he’s happy that she wants to get along better with him – probably. Ryoushi points out that he isn’t very honest, and asks what he wishes to do with her from now on. The younger boy ponders over this.

A luxurious house like a castle, with extravagant furniture. And balls which are held every night. Frills and lace, and many ribbons. A sparkling and dazzling princess in a beautiful dress. She is like a princess out of a storybook. Perhaps that’s why his heart grows excited when he’s with her, and he can’t calm down. It’s a floating sensation, almost as if magic was cast. In the first place, he hardly wears his feelings on his sleeve, so other people may not be able to tell from a glance.

Shirayuki also wants to get along better with her, and asks how he should go about it. It sounds like a beginner’s question, but he doesn’t know how to place a distance between himself and others since his world has always been narrow. Ryoushi replies that the answer is already there. He is confused at first, but soon understands what the older man means. He just needs to imitate what she is doing, like a mirror.

Back to Yurika’s POV

In her room, Yurika sighs and wishes she could restart everything like in a game. It appears that the word “cute” is a taboo for her prince. She doesn’t know the reason, she could tell that he was angry. Well, a wizard won’t appear out of nowhere to reset it. So she’s left with two choices – Akazukin or Gretel. She decides to choose the hidden third choice – think for herself. All of a sudden, there’s a knock on the door. She leaps up and tidies up her hair, before answering the door. It’s Gretel, and she unwittingly shouts since she was just thinking of him. He frowns at her reaction, since it’s as if she doesn’t want to see him. He walks away with the fresh batch of cookies he had just made. It’s mixed with candies, and looks just like stained glass.

She quickly pulls him back, and eagerly agrees to eat it. He shrugs with a teasing smile, and offers to feed her. She closes her eyes and opens her mouth, but she doesn’t taste anything. Yurika opens her eyes, only to find him eating the cookies himself. She appeals to him again, but he remarks that it’s payback for treating him poorly. She pouts, and he sighs before eventually giving in and feeding her. As she munches on the cookie, Yurika asks what sort of girl he likes (despite knowing the answer already). As expected, Gretel replies that it’s her. She thanks him, and later goes to to meet her prince with some homemade sweets.

She apologises for before, and presents her cookies. But Shirayuki rejects instantly. She ends up eating it herself, wondering if this is his way of implying that he doesn’t want to eat her cooking. She asks if she should buy something instead then, but he refuses too. Still, she feels somewhat relieved that it’s not a problem about her cooking then. Shirayuki looks at the stained glass-like cookies, and remarks that it’s cute like her eyes.

The next morning, Cinderella enters the kitchen to see Yurika happily humming away while preparing breakfast. Her energetic greeting turns him off, and he raises an eyebrow when she says that she’s cooking his favourite roast beef. He sits down at the table with Kaguya and Akazukin, learning that she’s been acting this way since before. Soon, she serves their breakfast – which consists of all of their favourite dishes. At that moment, Gretel enters the room. She cheerfully greets him, and hugs him.

Yurika: Gretel-kun. Thank you for everything. As expected of Gretel-kun. Gretel-kun is the best brother! Do you have any favourites? Sister will cook anything for you!
Gretel: …………sister……sister……!

As the youngest brother starts to sob, the three older brothers are confused over the reason he’s even crying. Yurika comforts Gretel, since he did contribute the most in making Shirayuki praise her cute (well to be exact, he called the cookies cute). But she’s thrilled nonetheless.

That night, Shirayuki observes that she’s in a good mood.  It’s obvious from her grin. He asks if something happened, clueless about the reason for her good mood. She gives him a hint, saying that it’s due to something he did. It may not mean much to him, but it was extremely important for her. He ponders over this, before replying that if it’s because he called her cute.

Yurika: Exactly!
Shirayuki: ……hmm. So you’re happy if I call you cute.
Yurika: Of course! For girls, being called cute is a praise!

Yurika then asks if he has anything which he likes, such as a favourite food. He answers that he doesn’t need it. She tells him not to be so reserved, as she would feel bad to be the only one who’s feeling happy. Hopefully, with this she can figure out what he likes. Shirayuki looks down and mutters that she’s not the only one.

Yurika: Eh?
Shirayuki: You don’t need to do anything. Even without doing anything, just being together is fine……but, I guess I don’t mind lying on your lap.
Yurika: Gladly!!

She welcomes him with open arms, and he lies down on her lap while reading his book. He’s completely treating her like a cushion, but she doesn’t mind it. When asked what he’s reading, Shirayuki replies that it’s an old mystery story. Yurika sees that it looks pretty worn out, so he must have read it many times – it’s likely a favourite of his. Upon learning that he likes books, she chimes in that she does too. But he seems disinterested, and his cool response almost freezes her heart over. Instead, she asks what he dislikes. He hesitates, before answering that he dislikes his own face. She tries to ask for the reason, but he doesn’t wish to share. She gives up on questioning him, and enjoys the pleasant moment.

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Yurika: …………
Shirayuki: ……won’t you talk about something?
Yurika: Won’t it interrupt your reading?
Shirayuki: Not really.
Yurika: Then what shall I talk about.
Shirayuki: Talk about yourself.
Yurika: Alright!
Shirayuki: I want to hear about your family.
Yurika: My family?

She’s caught off-guard, but accepts his request and starts sharing about her brothers. As mentioned, she lives with four brothers in a cafe on the shopping street. The eldest brother Cinderella is a bit mean but takes good care of them. The second brother Akazukin is very serious and shy. The third brother Kaguya is always smiling and very kind. The youngest brother Gretel looks very pleasant and is very skilled at making sweets. Shirayuki remarks that they all have unique personalities, and all seem noisy. Yurika can only laugh wryly.

Shirayuki: But……you’re loved, and treasured dearly by those brothers.

She looks up to where Akazukin is, who suddenly hides behind a tree. Yurika smiles and agrees with him. They are all unique and sometimes it so lively there is no time to rest, but it’s fun to be together and she truly enjoys those moments. Everyone is irreplaceable to her. In a distance, she can hear Akazukin’s voice. She asks if he has any siblings. Shirayuki replies that he doesn’t, but he has someone similar to that. After a while, he puts down his book.

Shirayuki: I have an acquaintance who is similar to you.
Yurika: Someone similar to me?
Shirayuki: ……yes. That insensitive, impudent and interfering part is exactly like you.
Yurika: Surely, the person is very forward, takes the initiative and good at taking care of others!
Shirayuki: That part isn’t similar though.

She can’t help but feel that she isn’t being praised. Yurika learns that the person is a man, whom he also met and talked to by the lake. The man is apparently always smoking a nasty-tasting cigarette. She admits that she doesn’t really like it. Her father and brother often smokes, so she has to warn them each time. Suddenly, she senses something off. She mentioned “brother”, but she can’t remember who that is. Her doubt is driven out of her mind, when Shirayuki continues the conversation.

Shirayuki: Because it’s bad for the body?
Yurika: Yes! If that person were to smoke, I think it’s good to give a candy instead of a cigarette.
Shirayuki: Candy?
Yurika: Yes, that’s right. That way, there’ll be something else in the mouth right?
Shirayuki: That’s true.
Yurika: But he’s rather strange to smoke a cigarette which seems to taste nasty.
Shirayuki: ……yes. He’s strange.

Yurika breaks out into a grin upon seeing his smile. He comments on her weird face, and she pouts. He adds that in terms of looks, they’re similar but not similar. His words confuse her, especially since she doesn’t know this other person. Soon, Shirayuki sits up and she notices that his ribbon is loose. He is unable to retie it, and she gladly demonstrates it for him. He tries it for himself, but is having a difficult time. She notes that he’s surprisingly clumsy. He pouts at her comment, and she can’t help but giggle at his cute expression.

Yurika: Does someone always tie it for you?
Shirayuki: ……my mother.
Yurika: I see.
Shirayuki: …………
Yurika: What’s wrong?
Shirayuki: ……Do you think that if someone can’t even tie a ribbon, that person is useless?

She smiles and shakes her head. Everyone has their strong and weak points. Moreover, tying a ribbon, especially by yourself, can be difficult. It may look simple, but it’s best to lend the help of someone skillful. She also asks Cinderella for help when wrapping. But she finds it wonderful that Shirayuki is challenging his weak points. He blinks at her in surprise, and returns to tying the ribbon with her guidance. When he fails the first time, she encourages him on since practice makes perfect. He eventually looks at her silently, so she unties her own ribbon and tells him to try tying someone else’s instead.

Shirayuki: ……I don’t know if I can do it well though?
Yurika: I believe in prince.
Shirayuki: …………

And so on the 18th try, he finally succeeds. It’s a granny knot, but she reassures him that the next time will be better. He frowns at her when she laughs.

Yurika: ……ah, I’m sorry. I’m just happy……
Shirayuki: Happy?
Yurika: Yes! I had the honour of taking prince’s first time!
Shirayuki: …………
Yurika: ……I don’t mean it in a weird way alright?
Shirayuki: I know.
Yurika: Now! Next is prince’s ribbon!
Shirayuki: ……it’s already time.
Yurika: Eh? The ribbon?
Shirayuki: I’ll practice at home.

He walks away, and she finds it a pity. Yurika giggles, and holds up the ribbon under the moonlight. It may not look pretty, but it’s a gift which delights her more than anything else. She stands up and calls out to Akazukin since it’s time to head back. But she discovers that he has passed out with a nosebleed.

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

Back in his room, Shirayuki is practising how to tie his ribbon. But it doesn’t go well no matter how many times he tries. He lets out a heavy sigh, and collapses on his bed. As he gazes up at the ceiling, he thinks of her. He actually could have let her tie his ribbon there and then. It’s faster, and it will also be prettier. Up till now, he wouldn’t have hesitated. But why did he try to challenge himself then, and tie it by himself? Because she isn’t his mother. She is a stranger who isn’t related to him by blood. He thinks that it would be wrong to ask the same love from her, as he does from his mother. He sits up, and looks down at the loose ribbon. It’s wretched and unsightly. Anyone can do something this simple. Yet he never once thought to try it himself. Because he felt that it wasn’t necessary. But now……

Shirayuki: ……I can definitely do it with practice.

He chants her words like a spell, and attempts once more. She isn’t his mother. She is a stranger who isn’t related to him by blood. At the very least, he wants to be an existence of equal footing. She neither forsaken him, nor directly lent a helping hand. Instead she believe in him and watched over him. She expects from him. That’s why he wants to answer those expectations. Shirayuki does as taught. He did it once, he can do it again. Eventually, he succeeds. It’s a granny knot, but at least it’s taken shape. He’s filled with a sense of accomplishment. It’s the first step. Has he gotten close to her, even the slightest?

At that moment, the door opens. His mother has returned. He excitedly approaches her, pointing out his ribbon. However, she notes that it’s crooked, and reties it into a pretty ribbon for him.

Mother: Fufu. Such a prince as always.
Shirayuki: …………that’s right.

Prince. That’s an ideal existence yearned for by many women. A dark shadow falls upon his heart each time he hears that word. “The wonderful prince will appear riding on his white horse, to save the lost lady, and to welcome the princess.” That’s nothing but an illusion.

Back to Yurika’s POV

When they return home, they find Cinderella waiting for them. He welcomes them back, and has already prepared something warm for them to drink. He sees that her ribbon is crooked, but she insists that it’s fine. Usually she would let Cinderella fix it, but this is commemoration of the first time her prince tied it for her.

The next day, Yurika heads to the lake as per usual and finds Shirayuki with his ribbon neatly tied. Before she can ask him about it, he says that his mother tied it for him. She finds it regretful, but doesn’t say anything else. The two of them sit in silence, until he observes that she kept the ribbon the same way. However, he unties it and tells her not to move when she protests. Soon, he reties it perfectly. He explains that he practiced at home till he got it. She’s impressed and praises him, but he pouts and replies that anyone can do it. But she remarks that it’s very pretty, and that even she can’t do it this perfectly.

However, it’s a pity as she quite liked the previous one. He frowns, asking what is nice about that messy one. Yurika points out that it’s distinct, and that she is happy with anything he gives her. Shirayuki doesn’t understand what she means, and she clarifies that he made her feel happy. When she thanks him, he gently smiles back at her. She feels herself reddening in response, and looks down. He hardly meets people’s eyes and hardly shows his feelings. So she never imagined that he could smile this gently. He observes that she often has many expressions, and she admits that people often comment that.

Shirayuki then asks why she calls him “prince”. To be honest, he had been wondering about that since before. She replies that it’s because he’s a prince, but her words only confuse him. Yurika then asks him not to be turned off if she explains the real reason, but he can’t guarantee that. She shares that her brother once told her a story about a boy as white and cold as snow.

Shirayuki: What’s with that. His personality seems poor.
Yurika: Ahaha……on the surface he seems unapproachable, has a sharp tongue, a blunt personality and is fickle……
Shirayuki: As expected, his personality is poor.
Yurika: But he has a very warm heart.
Shirayuki: I don’t understand. It’s contradictory.
Yurika: Hmm. He’s not honest, either that or perhaps he’s too honest.
Shirayuki: ………………so, what’s the rest of the story like?

The boy will appear at the lake each night. He looks very pretty and delicate, almost transient like white snow. As if he would disappear any time, he soon came to converse more as he visited the lake each night. The boy never spoke about himself, but he would listen to others properly. In fact, he could understand their true nature even in just a few words. It’s because he is keen-eyed and can seek out the truth. But he doesn’t confront others recklessly. He may be blunt in his words and attitude, but he isn’t a cold person.

Yurika: ……right? Don’t you think that he’s honest?
Shirayuki: ……to be honest I don’t know. Why do you think that he isn’t a cold person just because he doesn’t confront the truth? The reason he doesn’t speak the truth, may be because he just finds it bothersome.
Yurika: Kindness is subjective, so it’s a given that the person himself and the receiver’s perception to be different. At the very least, for my brother who told this story and for me who heard this story from my brother, we think that the boy is a kind person!

Shirayuki sighs, and replies that in any case he understands that she sees the boy in him. She agrees, admitting that she saw him as the prince like white snow from the moment she laid eyes on him. While he acknowledges her reason, he points out that it’s as if she’s only paying attention to him because he is similar to the boy. Yurika thinks that she would’ve still seen him as a prince even if she hadn’t heard the story before.

Shirayuki: What’s your proof for that?
Yurika: That is…………
Shirayuki: …………
Yurika: Because you’re the person I like.
Shirayuki: ……I don’t understand. Why do you think I’m a prince just because you like me?
Yurika: That is……because I’m
Shirayuki: Because you’re a princess?

He finishes her sentence instead. Though to be accurate, she had wanted to say “because I’m a girl”. Many girls in this world admire princesses. For a prince to save her, who is lost. She also dreamed of that. Shirayuki admits that he also thought that she was like a princess when he first saw her. Her eyes are a mix of blue and red, which he finds very beautiful.

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

That day, he’s awfully irate. The reason is clear. It’s because of her. With her fair complexion, white dress, fluffy and soft brown hair, and her two-toned eyes which are like shiny and dazzling jewels. So beautiful that you would wonder if you’re dreaming. A girl like a princess which doesn’t exist in reality. But he came to know something after talking to her. Only her appearance is like a princess’. Unlike her appearance, her personality is unexpectedly powerful, and far from the graceful image. Even if her gestures are cute, they lack elegance and her language is pretty unique too. For him who has always dreamed of a princess, she is perfect if she remains quiet. But it is on his part that he expected so, and was disappointed. So it isn’t as if he hates her. While it is true that her personality is surprising, she is so busy that it makes your eyes spin – almost like a kaleidoscope. It is fun to watch her. And yet……

Shirayuki blames Ryoushi, for she became weirder when he praised her. He thought that she was just like a princess when he first saw her. When he said that her eyes were pretty, her face went red and she started saying incomprehensible things. Yet she was happy when he said that she was cute. She usually does say stupid things. But it was as if she started to act like a clown. Ryoushi looks taken aback, but soon starts suppressing his laughter. Feeling that he’s being made fun of, Shirayuki kicks him in the shin.

Shirayuki: She called me a prince. When I asked why, she happily talked about the story of a prince as white and cold as snow. The prince was very beautiful, delicate, and transient like white snow……he appears at the lake at night, and lend a listening ear. He may be blunt in his words and personality, but he isn’t a cold person. He can seek out the truth for he is keen-eyed.
Ryoushi: It’s as if he’sa certain someone.
Shirayuki: …………

Shirayuki recalls her innocent smile, the girl who called him a “prince”.

Ryoushi: ……are you dissatisfied?
Shirayuki: ……she is beautifying me. Just like my mother. Everyone is seeking the prince who doesn’t exist, from me. I’m not a prince.

He no longer wants people to expect things from him on their own accord, only to end up disappointed on their own accord.

Back to Yurika’s POV

The next morning, Yurika prepares breakfast as per usual. But her mind is in a daze, and it’s tiresome for her to move. Last night, she panicked when he unexpectedly called her eyes pretty.

Yurika: P-pretty!? Who is!?
Shirayuki: You are.
Yurika: Egg yolk is!?

(Note: He said “kimi ga” in Japanese = “You are”. She replied “kimi ga” in Japanese which literally means “egg yolk is”.) Thinking back, she said a really stupid thing. But she was doing all she can to hold herself together.

Shirayuki: …………Arisu is cute.
Yurika: !

She doesn’t remember much after that. Before she realised it, she was home, changed her clothes, went to sleep, and woke up in the morning. It still hasn’t sunk into her – is she still dreaming? Or was the prince calling her a princess and pretty, all but a dream?

Cinderella calls out to her, but she’s lost in her thoughts. He ends up having to hit her on the head, pointing out to her that the eggs on her frying pan have been burnt. She quickly puts the fire out, and apologises for her careless error. She says that she will take care of the burnt egg, while transferring it to a plate. Cinderella tells her to not push herself, taking a bite of the black egg. His face scrunches up at its horrible taste, and he passes it to Kaguya. The latter takes a bite, forcing a smile while commenting that it’s nice to eat it burnt once in a while. The plate gets passed to Akazukin, who silently eats a piece. He presses a hand to his mouth, before pushing it to Gretel. As for the gourmet, he immediately dumps the rest into the dustbin.

Cinderella: You……
Gretel: The only forgivable burnt flavour is caramel. Even so, it’s rare for sister to commit a failure. Could it be your first time?
Yurika: Ah, aaah, aaaaaah……yes. That’s right……yes……
Cinderella: ……Yurika. You’re reaaally weird, but are you fine?
Yurika: ……y-yes. I’m fine.

She goes to fetch fresh eggs from the fridge, but it slips through her fingers and breaks. She can only apologise in a small voice. She looks up to see Cinderella, Kaguya and Gretel looking at her, with frightened expressions.

Cinderella: Scary……
Gretel: Has sister gone mad……!
Kaguya: ……princess, are you alright? Does your stomach hurt?
Yurika: That’s not……the case.
Cinderella: ……don’t force yourself. Go upstairs and rest. We’ll take care of the rest.
Gretel: How about I carry you to your bed.
Kaguya: Then shall I make some porridge?
Yurika: No!! I’m extremely fine!! Amazingly fine!! I’m overwhelmingly fine so it’s alright!!

Yurika waves her arms about to demonstrate this, but she ends up knocking over a bowl. They stare at her in response, till Cinderella concludes that she isn’t fine. She can only quietly admit so. The eldest asks Akazukin if he knows what happened. She makes eye contact with the latter, emphasising that he should keep quiet. She will surely be made the laughing stock if they knew that she’s acting like this because the prince called her pretty. Akazukin replies that he doesn’t know anything, while averting her gaze.

Yurika: ?
Kaguya: Princes, your face is scary……
Gretel: Ah, it’s true……

She looks down as they appear turned off. Cinderella thinks that she should take the day off work. When she protests, he asks if she can really work in that condition. Yurika firmly replies that she can, while slapping herself to pull herself together.

Kaguya: It’s fine for you to rest! I suppose princess has been working too hard?
Gretel: That’s right. It’s rare for Cinderella to say this, when he’s such a genius at forcing others to work.
Akazukin: ……well, that’s true. It’s better for you to calm down.
Cinderella: That’s what they say. What will you do?

And so she accepts and takes the day off work. She goes to do some window shopping. But she encounters a couple who repeatedly uses the word “cute” over and over again. She wishes she could be in that position. But unfortunately she’s alone. And instead of cute dolls in the show window, it’s wagons with cheap fruits and vegetables. If only her prince was here……

Yurika: Uwaah! Hey, look at that! It’s so cheap.
Shirayuki: That’s true, it’s cheap.
Yurika: Right! Fufu! How nice how nice. I feel like buying it when it’s this cheap.
Shirayuki: Then, just buy it?
Yurika: Right!!

She can’t help but giggle at the weird fantasy of hers. She returns her attention to her shopping list. She’s helping Akazukin with the shopping, in return for all of his help. She may have free time now, but she doesn’t want to do anything in particular. Her arms start to feel tired from the shopping in the basket, and she’s about to head back home. Just then, the person from the fruits and vegetables store rings a bell and announces that a sale is starting. Immediately, Yurika dashes into the war zone filled with aunties. She spots some high grade apples selling for 500 yen a box. It’s extremely cheap, and she asks for some. But the aunties push her away, and she can’t even get close to it.

A beautiful lady with silver hair spots her. Yurika guesses that she’s in her 30s, but her make-up is perfect and she shows no signs of wrinkles. She gives off a sophisticated aura, which you hardly encounter in this countryside tourist spot. The lady sees that the apples are selling cheaply, and Yurika responds with disappointment that it’ll be hard to buy before it runs out. To her surprise, the lady offers to cooperate with her. If at least one of them buys a box, at least they could share. Yurika agrees without any hesitation, leaving her shopping with the lady. Now that she’s free of any weight, she nimbly nudges into the crowd and successfully buys a box of apples. She thanks the lady for her help, who in turn thanks her since she didn’t do much. However, she wonders how to divide and move the box filled with 35 apples, weighing easily 10kg. It appears as though they missed out on the basics.

In the end, Yurika ends up being invited into the lady’s house in the forest. The lady goes to prepare some tea for her, while she gazes at the interior. The mansion is wide and filled with extravagant furniture – it’s almost like a castle. The lady returns with tea and homemade apple pie. Yurika is impressed by the delightful flavours. For some reason, the apple pie gives her a sense of relief and nostalgia. Just then, the lady realises that she hasn’t asked for her name. Yurika clears her throat and introduces himself, adding that she runs a cafe with her brothers. Unexpectedly, the lady eyes’ seem to shine. She’s excited that she really is called “Arisu” – almost like the heroine of a fairytale. Unlike her appearance, the lady seems to act like a young girl. The lady apologises for her excitement, and continues smiling at her.

Yurika: ……what is it?
Lady: I thought this from when we first met, but you have a very cute face like a doll. Like a princess!
Yurika: T-thank you very much……

She almost spits out her tea. What kind of princess spits out her tea? The lady thinks that she would suit laces and frills nicely, and offers for her to change into her clothes. Yurika politely rejects. After all, she only came here to divide the apples. The lady is regretful, and she can’t help but apologise. The lady apologises in return for troubling her, for she had always wanted a girl like that. She has a child around her age, and is similar to Yurika – though he is a boy.

Yurika: ……wait, you have a child?
Lady: Yes, I do.

The lady tells her to wait, while she calls her child over for them to meet. She leaves the room before Yurika can stop her. Left alone, she finishes off the last bite of apple pie. Yurika thinks that she’s a nice person, but seems to walk to her own pace. Soon, the lady returns with Shirayuki. Yurika’s jaw drops, as she exclaims at her prince while pointing at him. The lady is confused, and Shirayuki tries to dismiss it as a mishearing. Yurika waves her hands in denial.

Mother: Could it be that you know each other?
Shirayuki: No, we don’t.
Yurika: …………

While she isn’t sure of the reason, it seems as though he doesn’t want his mother to know. Since that’s what he wants, Yurika plays along and introduces herself as if it’s their first time meeting. He introduces himself too, and silence follows. His mother tries to brighten the mood, asking if he would like some apple pie too. She notes that it’s his favourite.

Shirayuki: ……sorry. I’m not in the mood now.

However, he coldly replies and walks away. His mother apologises on his behalf, explaining that he’s very shy. Yurika nods in response. Honestly, she isn’t convinced that he’s shy. But surely his mother, who knows him better, is correct. He’s probably a shy boy. Out of the blue, his mother takes her hands in hers.

Mother: Arisu-chan!
Yurika: Y-yes!
Mother: ……Arisu-chan. If it’s alright with you, please do get along with him from now on?
Yurika: I’ll be more than happy!!
Mother: Really? That’s great! That child has been extremely shy since young……I was always worried that he wouldn’t make any friends. But I’m relieved now that he has made friends with such a cute girl like you. If that child is ever in trouble, do you mind helping him? Arisu-chan.
Yurika: Yes! Mother-in-law!!

They hi-five each other, and Yurika feels that she’s doing well. However, his mother sighs as she looks at the apple pie which Shirayuki refuses to eat. As she gazes at Yurika, she suggest for her to bring it back as a gift.

Yurika returns home, and sees that the cafe is already closed. She brings the box of apples and the apple pie in, and wears her apron. She’s determined to work hard at the household chores, in return for resting the day. Gretel greets her, glad to see that she’s feeling well now. He keenly sniffs out the apple pie, and she tells him to wait since it’s for everyone. He nods, but snatches it from her. He happily hums, while opening the box and saying that he will only look. However, his tone drops as he realises with one glance that an amateur made it. He’d rather eat the special apple pie by the professional chef from Apple Hotel. Even if a pretty lady made it, he’d rather eat the one made by a professional even if he’s a bald uncle. After all, one can’t be sure of an amateur’s skills and sense, there may even be poison.

She frowns at him, and he shrugs and says that he will give it a try since she praised its taste. But she confiscates it from him and puts it in the fridge. She starts to tidy up the shopping, wondering what she should make for dinner. She asks Gretel if he wants anything, only to find him taking a bite of the apple pie. However, he covers his mouth and kneels down. He spits it out, telling her that it’s gone bad. Shocked, Yurika takes a look in the box. It’s the same apple pie she had this afternoon. But when she cuts it open, she sees that the apples have turned black. Meanwhile, Gretel gargles some water.

Yurika is at a loss. The only reason mould would grow on sweets, is if it’s left out in the heat or it has gone past its expiry date. But this was only just made this afternoon, and moreover it’s winter now. Unable to comprehend, she cuts a piece of apple pie. It smells normal. Gretel advises her to stop, but she still takes a bite. An inexplicably bitterness spreads in her mouth, and she spits it out. He passe her some water, and she cleanses her palate. The apple pie she received went bad. She recalls the pleasant smile the lady had, giving off no ill intention at all. Did she leave it out, and just happen to give it to her? Or……was there another intention? Yurika’s heart starts to pound, as if anticipating what is about to happen.

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

A vague sense of uneasiness. He realises that his surroundings have been changing ever so slightly. It’s really small things, such as the clean room accumulating just that bit of rubbish. The feeling that something is off, keeps growing. It all started ever since she appeared. He finds his mother humming happily in the living room while cleaning up.

Shirayuki: ……you seem happy.
Mother: Yes, I am! After all, it’s been so long since a guest came!
Shirayuki: …………

It’s true. This mansion is in the forest, and no one would imagine that people live here. Moreover, while he has seen people who hurt his mother, he has never seen anyone close friend of hers (who she can rely upon). That’s why he was shocked to hear that she brought a guest, even more so when he saw that it was her. An alarm goes off in his mind. To no longer meet Yurika. But it’s too late. His mother innocently compliments her looks – the fluffy hair and the jewel-like eyes. It’s as if a princess has leaped out from a storybook. Indeed, Yurika’s appearances are to his mother’s preference.

His mother was the daughter of a family who ran a long-established ryokan, so she was raised in a strict manner. The only enjoyment she was allowed was books. So she read many fairytales when she was young, and like many girls, she came to admire the shining and sparkling princess in these tales. Frills, lace, and many ribbons. A large castle, pretty dresses. It’s her dream to marry happily ever after.

Mother: And Arisu Yurika, isn’t it a wonderful name. Don’t you think that it’s destiny?
Shirayuki: ……that’s right.

“Alice” is a favourite name of his mother’s. It’s the name of the heroine of her favourite story. His mother tells him not to be shy, and to eat with them next time. She guesses that he’s hungry, and goes to prepare something for him. He quickly says that he’s fine, that he isn’t hungry. It’s a lie. The truth is he has always been hungry. Yet he can’t eat. Because everything in this world is “poison” to him. His mother looks sad, asking if her cooking isn’t delicious. He shakes his head, but she asks for the reason then, with a hurt expression. “Why?” – it’s a word which he hates. Each time he hears it, he recalls that he isn’t answering her expectations. She realises how late it is, and says that she has to go to work now. She hugs him tightly, and says what she always says with a kind smile.

Mother: Listen well? You’re different from the other children, you’re a very good child. So you can’t play outside. Everyone around you is a wolf. There’s no telling what bad things wolves will do, so ignore them even if they approach you. When mother is not around, you have to properly watch the house. If anyone comes to this house, you should never let them in.
Shirayuki: ……Yes, mother.
Mother: See you then, I’m going off.
Shirayuki: ……have a nice day. Mother.

Back to Yurika’s POV

Yurika waits by the lake, warming her cold hands. A lot happened today and she’s exhausted, but she can’t not come here. Because she can meet the one she likes here. She hears someone approaching, and immediately greets her prince. Shirayuki quietly sits next to her, and she wonders if he’s in a bad mood. She has a lot to ask, but she wonders how to lighten up the heavy mood. She turns to where Akazukin is, but he turns pale and shakes his head. That’s right, he is poor at dealing with Shirayuki. So it’s up to her. First, she confirms if the one she met in the afternoon was him – and not a twin. He confirms this, adding that there isn’t a doppelganger either. She remarks that it’s quite a coincidence.

Yurika: What a wonderful mother! She’s so beautiful, and kind……and a very interesting person!
Shirayuki: ……that’s right.
Yurika: ……was I a bother?
Shirayuki: Yes.
Yurika: Ugh!
Shirayuki: …………that’s a lie. You didn’t know, so it couldn’t be helped.

She looks up to see him smiling slightly. But it isn’t a pleasant smile, but almost seems like one in which he’s ridiculing himself. Yurika notes that he didn’t want his mother to know about their meetings, and tells him not to worry for she won’t tell his mother.

Shirayuki: ……I’m not worried. I know that you aren’t that sort of person.
Yurika: Then why are you angry?
Shirayuki: ……I’m not angry.
Yurika: That’s a lie.
Shirayuki: It’s not a lie!

For the first time, he raised his voice. He soon apologises and turns quiet, before saying that he’ll go back now. He walks away, ignoring her when she tries to stop him.

She walks back with Akazukin, and heaves a sigh. She feels bad towards her brother too, for always going with her selfishness. He doesn’t mind it, but asks if she still intends on coming tomorrow. Yurika confidently says that she will, and he stops in his tracks.

Akazukin: ……I don’t know what he is thinking.
Yurika: I don’t know either.

It’s because she doesn’t know, that’s why she’s this troubled. Her brother looks at her in surprise.

Akazukin: Even though you don’t know what he is thinking, you like him?
Yurika: Mysterious men are wonderful!
Akazukin: ……you’re amazingly positive.
Yurika: Because it’s more fun to think positive.
Akazukin: He suddenly treated you coldly……I don’t like him.
Yurika: ……the prince is a strong opponent. It’s hard to tell what he is thinking, and his attitude and words are blunt.
Akazukin: He’s fickle, harsh with his words, and hits people without hesitation.
Yurika: Ahaha……but I think that he isn’t a cold person.
Akazukin: ……is that so?
Yurika: Yes! He’s probably very rational, that’s why he comes off as cold.
Akazukin: Rational?
Yurika: Yes. In order not to be swayed by his emotions, he constantly keeps himself in check……or something like that. He may be similar to brother Kaguya.
Akazukin: ……indeed, Kaguya is always smiling but you can’t tell what’s on his mind.
Yurika: Right?

Emotions are necessary in life, but a lot of things can go awry if you lose control of them. Rational people understand that well, and always keep themselves in check so as not to be swayed by emotions. Akazukin notes that she observed Shirayuki well. Yurika replies that he’s the one she likes after all. Akazukin admits that he doesn’t know him well, but perhaps she is correct on this matter. Just then, she realises something. Akazukin refers to himself as “watashi“, while her princes uses “ore“. Akazukin sees nothing wrong, since “ore” is used by men. Yurika says that Shirayuki doesn’t give off that vibe though. He looks androgynous, and seems the type to use “boku” instead. Akazukin sees her point.

Yurika: By the way, why does brother Akazukin use “watashi“?
Akazukin: Even if you ask me why……just somehow I do?
Yurika: Somehow……

The way you refer to yourself is up to you, it’s a way to express yourself. But each of these have an image. For example, if women used “ore“, it would give off a rough image. If men used “watashi“, it would give off a strangely humble image. In other words, while you have the freedom to choose, such patterns will still follow suit. So it’s case by case. Another pattern would be based on gender, whether it’s “masculine” or “feminine”. So if her prince used “ore“, which is usually used by most men, he gives off a “masculine” image unlike his appearance. Yurika recalls how he was angry when called “cute”, and said that he disliked his appearance. She realises that perhaps Shirayuki doesn’t like being seen like a girl.

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

The contents of the book won’t register in his head, he can’t put a stop to his irritation. Shirayuki throws the book towards the door. He hears Ryoushi, whose voice sounds like an illusion, asking what’s wrong, since it’s rare for him to be this bothered. The younger boy meets his icy blue eyes which he actually likes, but right now he isn’t in the mood. Those eyes like ice only remind him of Yurika now. Shirayuki explains that he shouted at her.

Shirayuki: ……she definitely hates me now. And thinks that I’m the worst.
Ryoushi: What did she say?
Shirayuki: ……why was I angry.
Ryoushi: Were you angry?
Shirayuki: ……I don’t know. But it’s the worst……she knows about mother……

The past can’t be changed. He knows that best.

Ryoushi: So what’s wrong? Didn’t you want her to know? Isn’t your wish fulfilled.
Shirayuki: You’re wrong. I didn’t want her to know.
Ryoushi: Don’t lie. It’s because you wanted her to know, that you deliberately approached her in such a roundabout manner right?
Shirayuki: ……you’re wrong.
Ryoushi: Weren’t you waiting for the appearance of the princess who will save you from this world?
Shirayuki: You’re wrong!!

He shouts at Ryoushi, just like he did at Yurika. But he regrets it immediately.

Shirayuki: I……never thought of wanting to be saved. I’m fully satisfied with the way things are. It’s true……

Frills, lace, and many ribbons. A large castle and pretty dresses. A mother who loves him, and a hunter who watches over him. And he, the prince. It’s fine if it’s fake, or make-believe. The days he spend with the people he likes, is like a calm lake. There is no sadness or pain. But the calm lake is now ripping heavily.

Ryoushi: Then it’s fine for you to remain hated by her. The days without her were the usual days for you. Wasn’t it that way just a while before? So it’s fine to just ignore her existence.
Shirayuki: …………

He’s right. If he longed for those days, he could just choose to not see her. But it’s too late. Ryoushi asks if he doesn’t want to ignore her, and Shirayuki confirms this. The older man smiles at him, asking if he knows what to do then. The younger boy nods, and thanks him.

Back to Yurika’s POV

The next morning, Yurika prepares the cafe. Kaguya sees that she’s up early, and helps her out. She asks what he thinks of himself, and he looks puzzled. She explains that the prince seems to hate himself. Her brother sees where she’s coming from.

Kaguya: I see. So you’re consulting me, since I hate myself too?
Yurika: Ahaha……I don’t necessarily think that brother Kaguya is like that. But the prince and brother Kaguya resembles each other a bit. So I wanted to ask what does brother Kaguya think of this. By the way, the prince doesn’t seem to like to touch on his appearance. Even though he is white as snow, and very beautiful.
Kaguya: Nn–……I never met the prince, so I don’t know well. But I suppose he has no self-confidence?
Yurika: Is that the case?
Kaguya: Well, I can’t say for sure. But for you to hate yourself, the trivial things are usually the trigger? For example, when you are compared to someone else, or when someone says something to you. Even if it’s a whisper with no ill intention, the one being told it may remember it for life? Well, I can also imagine that perhaps there is a deeper reason.
Yurika: Hmm……

The only other people around Shirayuki who could’ve told him something – is his mother, and his male friend. She only just met the prince recently, so she shouldn’t be counted.

Yurika: By the way, even though brother Kaguya is a man, would you hate it if you were seen as a woman?
Kaguya: Well yes I would–
Yurika: That’s true……

She would hate it too if she were seen as a man. That’s why Shirayuki doesn’t like being called “cute” or “pretty”, as it resembles a woman. She may have stepped on a landmine. While she doesn’t recall clearly what she may have said, it’s possible that she may have said something to displease him. Because to her, “cute” and “pretty” and words of praise.

Kaguya: No matter how much you want to change it, you can’t change the past. You can’t return to the start like a game, or take it as though nothing happened. A wizard who can cast magic won’t appear. If princess regrets it, it’s fine if you take care to not repeat the same mistakes again?
Yurika: A constructive advice indeed.

She thanks him, and they return to cleaning up the hall. Just as she’s about to head into the kitchen, she hears Kaguya letting out a curious remark. He was checking the fridge to see if anything needs to be thrown out, but strangely there’s quite a lot of ingredients left. They look at each other, and she wonders if their customers have decreased.

No matter how troubled you are, time will pass by. No one can stop the day from changing into night. And so she’s at the lake with Shirayuki, as they both sit in silence. It’s awkward. But it’s not as though they really quarreled, so she doesn’t know how to break the ice. They both speak at the same time, and the awkward silence follows again.

Shirayuki: ……I’m sorry about yesterday. I shouted at you even though you weren’t at fault.
Yurika: No! I’m not bothered by it at all!
Shirayuki: ……it can’t be helped if you hate me.
Yurika: There’s no way I can hate you!

He looks surprised, and also bewildered.

Yurika: ……anyone’s mood can turn bad. Anyone can get angry. And even take your anger out on someone else……of course, there are even times opinions can clash. But I won’t hate you for every little thing!
Shirayuki: ……really?
Yurika: It’s the ho–nest tru–th!

She leans forward to stare into his eyes, trying to show that she’s saying the truth. When he blinks, she reels back and apologises too. She said some careless stuff without thinking of his feelings, and may have hurt him unintentionally.

Shirayuki: Like “cute”?
Yurika: ……that’s right.
Shirayuki: I’m not bothered by it.
Yurika: Really?
Shirayuki: It’s the honest truth.

They go quiet again, till she asks if they can make up now. He nods, and the burden on her shoulders is lifted. Yurika lets out a giggle. She was a bit uneasy if he would come tonight. But she’s glad that he did.

Shirayuki: ……I’m the one who made the promise.
Yurika: That’s right. Promises are important. That’s why I want to fulfill my promise too.

He looks at her with a puzzled expression. It’s only natural. Yurika herself, also had not realised what meaning her words held, when she so naturally uttered them. She takes a deep breath, before looking straight at Shirayuki.

Yurika: ……prince……I don’t know what happened to prince. I still don’t know you well. I can’t see what’s on your mind, or what secrets you have. But this much is for sure. I like you. That’s why I want to get to know you. What you’re thinking, what you wish for, I want you to tell me.
Shirayuki: What I’m thinking……what I wish for……?
Yurika: Yes! Please tell me anything!
Shirayuki: ………………I’m not a prince.
Yurika: Eh?
Shirayuki: I’m not the prince that you think I am……
Yurika: …………

Yurika wonders if this is a roundabout way of wanting her to call him by his name.

Yurika: ……then, Shirayuki-kun?
Shirayuki: !

His white face reddens when she calls his name.

Shirayuki: ……A lot of things have become weird ever since I met you. It wasn’t meant to be like this……take responsibility.
Yurika: Responsibility?
Shirayuki: Let’s play a game.
Yurika: Game?
Shirayuki: Yes, a game. I’m going to give you a riddle, which you need to solve.
Yurika: A riddle…………alright. I’ll win no matter what game it is. In exchange, will you listen to me no matter what if I win?
Shirayuki: ……alright.

He smiles at her request, and proceeds with the riddle. There were once 10 siblings. While you were the master of those siblings, you obeyed each of them. They each had their own temperament, and some of them were very arrogant. But the siblings came to have those temperaments because the master chose it for their sake.

Yurika anticipates his next words, but he doesn’t continue. Could it be – that is it? He smiles and tells her to work hard.

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

That night, Shirayuki was evidently in a good mood. He reads the crossword puzzle book he received from Ryoushi, while recalling his conversation with Yurika. He can’t help but smile. Ryoushi observes how he seems to be having fun, and supposes that things are going well.

Shirayuki: Well, perhaps. We’re in the middle of playing a riddle now.
Ryoushi: Riddles huh……you like them as always.
Shirayuki: I know that she is a strong opponent.
Ryoushi: Unlike me?
Shirayuki: That’s right. Unlike Ryoushi.
Ryoushi: …………

Shirayuki looks up from his book. Ash grey hair and icy blue eyes. Ryoushi’s looks are different from others. The same goes for Yurika.

Shirayuki: That’s why……there’s no way she can’t solve it. Even Ryoushi has become better at it, unlike how you were in the past right?
Ryoushi: Aah, that’s right. Thanks to you. Thanks to you, I’m pretty much destined to the path I’m on now.
Shirayuki: Ryoushi’s path?
Ryoushi: That’s right.
Shirayuki: I suppose so.
Ryoushi: Is it someone else’s affairs.
Shirayuki: It is someone else’s affairs. That’s how I always am.

Being always caged up, there’s no way he can understand other people. He only knows himself. But he can indirectly gain that knowledge through books. He has been learning about other people’s perception and thoughts, imagination, his self-awareness…and widening his “world” till now through books. Shirayuki lets out a small sigh. Recently, he has recalled about a stagnant story. In exchange, his story which was in stagnation, has suddenly started moving on. He works his mind, and infers. Why did she suddenly appear before him. Why has his world gradually started to change ever since she appeared. Just like how he gave her a riddle, she has also given him a riddle. Shirayuki tells Ryoushi that she is different from him or his mother. He found it odd since their first meeting.

Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

Eyes like jewels. Soft and fluffy hair. The princess he has admired since young. But instead a slender and tall girl appeared.

Shirayuki: After meeting her and talking to her……I sort of knew it. She is special.

Back to Yurika’s POV

There were once 10 siblings. While you were the master of those siblings, you obeyed each of them. They each had their own temperament, and some of them were very arrogant. But the siblings came to have those temperaments because the master chose it for their sake.

At the breakfast table, Cinderella heaves a loud sigh which draws Yurika back to reality. Akazukin remarks that it’s rare for him to sigh, leading the eldest brother to point out how rude his statement was. He has his own worries too. Oblivious, Akazukin asks if he has any. Cinderella dismisses his comment and explains that business has been dropping lately. Gretel replies that it was only started out of interest, so profits shouldn’t matter as much to them. Akazukin and Kaguya nod in response. Cinderella admits this, but wonders if it’s alright for them to leave things be just when business was doing well.

Kaguya observes that there has been lesser customers. Yurika wonders if they got bored of here, and Cinderella notes that people in the countryside are quick to lose interest. Kaguya asks if he should provide more services to the ladies, to which Cinderella answers that it’s a good idea to cater to the women. Yurika comments that handsome men have to be the main point, and everyone turns to look at Kaguya.

Gretel: As expected, a ticket for punching brother Kaguya once……
Yurika: Stop it, Gretel-kun. How about a butler cafe?
Kaguya: Welcome back, my lady……?
Yurika: Yes yes!!
Gretel: Isn’t that too cliche?
Cinderella: It is cliche.
Gretel: As expected, a ticket for punching brother Kaguya once……
Kaguya: Stop it!!
Yurika: Then, one hug for one drink.
Kaguya: I like you. I don’t want to let you go.
Yurika: One kabedon for one drink.
Kaguya: Don’t look at other men! You just need to look at me!
Yurika: One lift of the chin for one drink.
Kaguya: ……say, can I kiss you?
Yurika: One yandere act for one drink.
Kaguya: Sister sister sisteeeer!!
Gretel: ……who are you imitating?
Kaguya: Nn? Of course it’s Gretel-kun?

(Note: Kabedon = slamming one’s hand into the wall in front of somebody, usually slamming right beside the somebody’s face/head (e.g. to stop them from leaving; often viewed as romantic). I translated agokui as “lift of the chin”. I think yandere is quite a well-known term. But you can google the terms if you want better descriptions.) Gretel punches Kaguya in the stomach, and says that he will think of a new menu. Once again, Akazukin (obliviously) suggests the hot fruits punch from the other time.

Gretel: What’s that.
Akazukin: Yurika-san used shira
Yurika: I thought of it when I was  making shiratama! The shiratama Gretel-kun made was really cute, and the fruits punch was delicious. So I thought of making something with it, and tried my hand at it!

Kaguya and Cinderella look at her meaningfully, with wide grins. It’s clear that they already know the truth. Gretel looks at her suspiciously, and she firmly denies. It looks like he still hasn’t noticed it, as he agrees that hot fruits punch is a good idea. The sweetness of fruits like banana, apple, grapes and pineapple increases when made hot, and it’s good for beauty too. Cinderella remarks that it would seem well-received by women. Yurika also suggests fruit tea, and Gretel notes that it goes well with desserts. She adds that they can use the leftover fruits too, serving it with fresh cream or chocolate. Gretel thinks that fondue is a good idea, but they’d need to raise the prices a bit if they don’t want to make a loss.

The issue is that since it’s winter, the fruits they can serve now is limited. Akazukin replies that the available ones are probably oranges, strawberries, and apples. Kaguya recalls that Yurika bought a lot of apples recently. Since they’ve gained new ideas, Cinderella wraps things up and encourages them to work hard today. The rest respond energetically as they punch their fists in the air. After that, thanks to their plan, business was booming that day.

Or so she’d like to say. The world is an interesting place. That night, Yurika hugs her knees and sighs. Shirayuki asks what’s wrong, and she replies that they’ve been getting lesser customers. In the end, no one visited their cafe. She knows that nothing will be solved by complaining to him, but she can’t help it.

Shirayuki: ……it isn’t your fault.
Yurika: ……thank you. Prince is kind indeed!
Shirayuki: ……not really. I’m not kind.
Yurika: …………

She wonders if she stepped on a landmine again, and changes the topic by reporting that the hot fruits punch she made is now on the cafe menu.

Shirayuki: The shiratama one?
Yurika: Yes! The shiratama snow crystal one!
Shirayuki: …………
Yurika: ?

He turns away, his shoulders trembling slightly. Wondering what’s wrong, she tries to peek over. But he turns around and calmly asks if she has solved yesterday’s riddle. Yurika recalls his riddle word for word, before answering.

Yurika: First, it was pointed out that “you” are the one being asked the question. And the one being asked the question obeys the 10 siblings. So the 10 siblings, is something the one being asked the question usually uses. Next is the 10 siblings. They seem to each have their own temperament, but since the word “sibling” is used, the 10 siblings are related in a way. From there, I’m trying to find for something I usually use, something I can obey, and something which has 10 meanings……
Shirayuki: …………
Yurika: ……well I’ve figured it out till this point but I’m still searching for the critical answer. Did I get the wrong idea?
Shirayuki: No……as expected, you’re different from him. Even though when I gave him this riddle in the past, he was pretty troubled by it.

Yurika recalls that he mentioned about his friend who is similar to her. Curious, she asks how he is like. She remembered that Shirayuki said that he smoked and that his looks don’t really resemble her. Shirayuki mulls over this, before answering.

Shirayuki: He……has a sulky look, is violent and has a bad mouth. He’s similar to you, insensitive, impudent, meddlesome, and thick-headed……he has a strong will, and knows people’s weaknesses. I met him at the lake pier. I was gazing at the lake, and he called out to me. Apparently he thought that that I was going to commit suicide.
Yurika: …………

Shirayuki was curious, so he invited him to come to the lake again the next day. Unexpectedly, he came the next night. Usually one wouldn’t listen to a brat you don’t know. But it’s not as though they did anything special. He would smoke, while he himself would gaze at the lake. And sometimes they would talk. Shirayuki wasn’t quite sure of what to say, even though he was curious. What surprised him is that the man kept coming to the lake the next night, and the next night. After that, they talked more and Shirayuki came to know more about him. Over time, Shirayuki realised that they were a bit similar. What they like, dislike, and the feelings they had. Perhaps that was the instinctive reason why he was curious when they first met.

He would often talk about his younger sister – what she likes, dislikes, the books she likes, the times she feels sad. But he thinks that the man was poor at handling his sister. As he would recall his own looks. His looks are rather outstanding, and a hindrance to the path he wanted to take. He has unique looks – ash grey hair and icy blue eyes. For some reason, those descriptions stand out to her. Apparently, his sister also has a unique appearance. Shirayuki once saw her photo, and finds her very pretty. Though he isn’t sure if the sister feels the same way.

The sister was very brilliant, and would receive their expectations and interests. Perhaps that’s why he was poor at handling her. Inferiority complex. Even though the gap in their age is quite wide. But Shirayuki understands his feelings painfully well. Anyone will be annoyed at being compared to someone else, like a mirror’s reflection. You are yourself no matter what, that’s why you wish to be recognised. Yurika can sense the sympathy Shirayuki feels for his friend. Shirayuki admits that he likes his friend very much. But right now, his friend has gone to someplace far away. Yurika realises that it’s why he keeps speaking about his friend in past tense.

Yurika: Ah. Could it be that you’re waiting for that friend, that’s why Shirayuki is always at the lake?
Shirayuki: …………
Yurika: ?
Shirayuki: ……no. I’m the one who has gone to someplace far away.

He smiles at her and narrows his eyes, as if he’s looking at something dazzling. He then stretches out a hand towards the lake, as if wishing to go into the mirror world. That sight causes her heart to pound intensely.

In another moment Alice was through the glass, and had jumped lightly down into the Looking-glass room. (Note: originally in English.)

That night, Yurika has a nostalgic dream. She kept urging her brother to continue the story. After hearing about the story of the prince like white snow, she couldn’t help but be interested in him. But he replied that he has told her everything he knows already.

Yurika: I see. What a pity. I want to meet him too, the prince like white snow.
Brother: ……can’t you do something about that märchen-like way of calling him?
Yurika: Isn’t it so wonderful?
Brother: It’s cold.
Yurika: It’s so chilly as expected from the snow?
Brother: …………

He hit her head, and she protested to his violence. Her brother said that the prince is also quick to hit people, which she finds unexpected. She asked what sort of existence the prince is to him, and her brother replied that he has a bad mouth, blunt attitude, fickle and is not the least cute. But without the prince, there wouldn’t be the him today. Because the boy taught him the path he is on now. Yurika remarked that it’s fitting for him – a therapist, a doctor of the heart. (Note: Therapist in Japanese is “ryoushi“.)

Her brother is turned off at how she said something similar to the prince, and she said that perhaps their personalities match perfectly. Her brother doubted it, but she pointed out that one can’t be sure unless they meet. Her brother asked if she’s entertaining useless ideas.

Yurika wakes up to her bedroom in the upper floor of the cafe. She looks around, and it’s the usual surroundings. Even though nothing is different and it’s the house she is familiar with, for some reason she feels unsettled. Is it because Shirayuki talked about his friend? She dreamed of a man with ash grey hair and icy blue eyes, and called him “brother”. Dreams are pieced together based on your memories. You usually would have remembered the people and places in your dreams. If someone unfamiliar appears in your dream, it is because the mind created it based off a past experience. Or your subconscious is being actualised in your dream. In that case, does she know that person? She feels gloomy. What exactly is this sense of discomfort?

Later that day, Yurika is exasperated that they have no customers during the lunch hour. It’s weird since there are plenty of people outside. Cinderella is at a loss too.

Kaguya: Even though we worked hard. Kabedon, yukadon, hugging from behind, choking……we even thought of a new menu.

(Note: Yukadon is similar to kabedon, except it’s against the floor.) Clearly the last option (of choking) is dependent on the person’s liking. Cinderella says that they can only give up if no one comes. After all, this was started out of pure interest. Akazukin and Kaguya nod in response. But Yurika is worried about the business. But then again, if no one comes it means that they won’t spend any money too – so it’s balanced out?

Yurika: It’s as if people are disappearing from the world……
Cinderella: There’s no way that is the case. Then what are we?
Yurika: ……the heroes left behind who will save this world?
Cinderella: …………

He flicks his finger at her forehead, telling her to get back to work. Speaking of which, she wonders where Gretel is. There’s no one in the kitchen. Kaguya guesses that perhaps he went outside and is queuing in line for some new dessert. Cinderella remarks that it’s fine for now since there are no customers. He heads back to his room to continue his craft too.

Yurika: ………………brother Akazukin and brother Kaguya can do what they like too?

Her brothers always let her do what she wants. She can return the favour today. Kaguya ponders over this, and replies that he likes being with her. As expected, she can see why he’s popular with women. Akazukin answers that he will remain here too. As expected, he’s cunningly clever. And so an hour passes by, with no customers at all. While Yurika plays with an apple on the table, Akazukin asks if she has figured out the answer. Kaguya is confused and Akazukin can’t recall it well, so Yurika recites the riddle for them.

Yurika: Isn’t the answer “words”?
Akazukin: Eh? …………
Yurika: …………
Akazukin: ……you solved it without any hints?
Yurika: Yes.
Akazukin: …………???

It was only just now that Yurika figured it out. She takes a deep breath and explains how she arrived at the answer. There were once 10 siblings. While you were the master of those siblings, you obeyed each of them. They each had their own temperament, and some of them were very arrogant. But the siblings came to have those temperaments because the master chose it for their sake. First, it was pointed out that “you” are the one being asked the question. And the one being asked the question obeys the 10 siblings. So the 10 siblings, is something the one being asked the question usually uses. Next is the 10 siblings. They seem to each have their own temperament, but since the word “sibling” is used, the 10 siblings are related in a way. From there, she tried to find for something she usually uses, something she can obey, and something which has 10 meanings……noun, verb, adjective, quasi-adjective, adverb, pre-noun adjectival, conjunction, interjection, auxiliary verb, postposition.

Akazukin: …………haah.
Kaguya: Ooh–I don’t really get it but that’s awesome–!
Akazukin: ……if it’s words, why did the siblings come to have those temperaments if the master chose it for their sake?
Yurika: Isn’t it because the meaning of words can change depending on how the person uses them? For example, even if those words don’t mean that, if the person has that intention it can become that meaning.
Akazukin: What a pompous attitude. It’s just like him.
Yurika: Ahaha…………but even if I know the answer, I’m afraid that there are still many things I don’t understand. What is the intention of this riddle? Paradoxically, the reason Shirayuki-kun gave me the riddle is because he “wants me to know” right? If he didn’t want me to know, there’s no need to deliberately do this.
Akazukin: Why not ask him directly?
Yurika: That might be true but……

She is afraid of stepping on another landmine of his. Words are a means of conveying your emotions and thoughts. Because there are words, the complicated mind can be made clear, and you can convey it to the other person. But sometimes, words can also cut people down. In that case, she needs to think of another way of communication besides words.

And so, Yurika bakes an apple pie. According to his mother, it’s his favourite dish. And she can’t help but be mindful of something. Shirayuki refused her past two offers when she cooked for him. The reason is still unknown. Moreover, there’s the apple pie she received from his mother, who went bad. Perhaps all these are connected in a way. She is afraid of asking him directly, so she shall go about it in a roundabout manner. So she will use the “apple pie” in a psychological battle. And so she tries to flavour the taste as close as possible to his mother’s version. After that though, Yurika wonders what is lacking. The apple pie she made only resembles his mother’s version in terms of its appearance. Of course, it’s tasty. But she isn’t convinced.

When she visits the lake at night, she finds Shirayuki at the pier gazing at the lake as usual. She stands next to him, and imitates him, hoping to understand him better. The rippling lake is bathed in the moonlight. It’s a beautiful full moon. She gazed at this lake before too, but what exactly is there? A breezes blows past, creating more ripples. At the same time, the clear lake seems to reflect everything symmetrically like a mirror. It’s as if an upside-down world is trapped in the lake. She stretches out her hand. If she stretches out her hand to pass through it, it almost feels as though she could leap into that world.

At that moment, Shirayuki grabs her. He stares at her, and she returns his gaze. It’s just like the time she told him to tell her anything. But he doesn’t look away this time. Out of the blue, he asks what she thinks of her appearance. Yurika is taken aback, she never once thought about it. But she’s sure that he has his own reasons for asking. After a brief pause, she answers that she likes her looks. She stands out, and there are unpleasant things – but she is herself. She smiles at him, and he narrows his eyes as if looking at something dazzling.

Shirayuki: ……you’re strong.
Yurika: Is that so?
Shirayuki: Yes………………I like it. Your jewel-like eyes, and your soft and fluffy hair. Everything is proof that you are you.
Yurika: Shirayuki-kun……

A cold breeze blows past. He keeps holding her hand. The cool air and the warmth in their touch feels pleasant.

Shirayuki: But I don’t like my own looks. I find it difficult to look in the mirror. When I first did so, it was as if I wasn’t looking at myself. Complexion as white as snow. Lips and cheeks as red as an apple. And shiny hair……I couldn’t help but think that it isn’t me, but someone else.
Yurika: Someone else……?

He nods, and uses his other hand to touch her cheek.

Shirayuki: ……hey, Arisu. How do I look in your eyes?
Yurika: That……platinum hair, purple crystal-like eyes. Lips as red as an apple. A beautiful prince like snow……
Shirayuki: That’s what you see, because you’re dreaming.
Yurika: Dreaming?
Shirayuki: You’re only beautifying me. You will surely be disappointed when you wake up.
Yurika: Why?
Shirayuki: Because the real me is very ugly.
Yurika: …………

It looks like she still doesn’t understand him well – what he’s thinking, what he’s feeling. But she knows that he’s trying to convey something. Yurika realises that’s why he gave her the riddle.

Yurika: Ah, I see. That’s why it’s words.
Shirayuki: ……what is?
Yurika: The answer to the riddle. Shirayuki-kun. I don’t understand your feelings, but I can imagine. Because we don’t know what’s on our minds, we observe the other person, and predict. That’s why we have “conversations”, “games”, “words”. What those have in common, is that “they can only be established by being defined by two people or more”.
Shirayuki: …………
Yurika: And also for there to be “salvation” for that subject. Aren’t you telling me that you wish to be saved?
Shirayuki: ……what’s with that. There’s also a limit to how much you can distort. Aren’t there also many things which can be established if two people or more exist.
Yurika: For example, “love”?
Shirayuki: There is a word called narcissism.
Yurika: Then “romance”. It can’t be established if there isn’t a subject to love.
Shirayuki: ……for example, you and me?
Yurika: That’s right. For example, me and you. Shirayuki-kun said that I’m dreaming, but that’s a given. After all, I’m in love with you. When you’re in love, it’s as if magic was cast and the person looks very attractive to you.
Shirayuki: Being in love is the same as dreaming?
Yurika: You can say that. I like it. Your fickleness, blunt attitude, and unexpectedly bad mouth. Everything is proof that you are you.
Shirayuki: Proof that I’m myself……………………but in that case, the moment the romance ends (magic is undone), won’t you immediately lose interest (wake up)? You will wake up from the dream, and see the real me. If that happens, you will grow to hate me.
Yurika: When that happens, I just need to love you. Love is different from romance. Love is caring. No matter the flaws or ugliness, it can embrace everything right? The same can be applied to yourself. I am me, no matter what. Or so it was said. Ultimately, perhaps people who can’t even love themselves cannot be happy. After all, no matter how loved you are, you are unable to feel love. Perhaps Shirayuki-kun needs to love the you reflected in the mirror. Perhaps that is the only way to save you.
Shirayuki: Will you reach out your hand to me?
Yurika: Of course!
Shirayuki: ……will you stay by my side, and love me even when you wake up from the dream?
Yurika: Yes. I will love you even when I wake up from the dream.
Shirayuki: ………………it’s easy to say it, but it’s actually difficult.
Yurika: I know that. But I will solve any challenge.
Shirayuki: Like a riddle.

She asks what was the answer to the riddle, and cheers loudly when he answers that it was “words”. But he avoids her when she tries to do hi-five with him, so she leaves both hands up as if she’s cheering. Shirayuki observes that she seemed to already know the answer, and she insists that she didn’t cheat. In any case, he states that a promise is a promise and will listen to one thing she has to say. While she teasingly wonders what she should ask for, he smells something sweet. He figures out that it’s apple pie, asking if she made it for him. Yurika admits that she did, having heard that it was his favourite from his mother. He goes quiet, and she panics, asking if it’s a bother. He denies this, and with a smile he agrees to fulfill his end of the promise. He will eat it.

After parting ways, Yurika can’t help but feel that it was a bother. His attitude was unnatural. In the first place, it’s rare for him to smile. When he does smile, it’s usually when he’s feeling nostalgic while talking about his friend, or a slight smile……and when he smiled as if ridiculing himself, on the day she met his mother. Feeling that something is off, Yurika asks Akazukin if she can make it in time if she turns back now.

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

Shirayuki stares at the apple pie he received. He’s at a loss. He can’t bring it back, in case his mother sees it. And what would she think if she learns that Yurika made it. Now that she’s left, he could throw it into the lake. It will sink to the bottom, becoming feed for the fishes. No one will get hurt. But the apple pie looks appetising, and the sweet scent teases his senses.

Shirayuki: If it’s just a bit……

He loved apple pies in the past. But now……he takes a piece in his trembling hand. He can’t help but feel uneasy when he thinks about what will happen afterwards. He musters the courage to take a bite. But bitterness spreads over his tongue, and a choking decayed smell overwhelms him. He throws everything up, and collapses to his knees when it becomes too much for him to handle. As expected, even if it’s her food, his body cannot accept it. He lets out a laughter of self-ridicule. He can’t even eat the food which she specially made for him. As the breathlessness causes his vision to blur, Shirayuki spots the apple pie which is now dirtied with his vomit. He can’t show her this. If she sees this, she will think that he’s dirty. She will end up hating him – and it’s game over. He has to hurry home. But when he tries to support himself, his arms give way and he falls to the ground.

Just then, he hears Yurika calling out to him. He can only utter “why”. It’s the worst possible timing. Even though he didn’t want her of all people, to see this ugly side of him.

Back to Yurika’s POV

Yurika spots Shirayuki on the ground, having thrown up at apple pie. She rushes to his side, asking if he’s alright. His face is pale, and he’s breathing heavily. But he replies that he’s fine. She asks Akazukin to fetch some water, while wrapping her red hood around Shirayuki. She lays him on her lap, wiping his mouth with her handkerchief. They remain silent, as she strokes his hair and notes that he’s very thin compared to boys of his age. After a while, she asks if he’s feeling better and he acknowledges in a whisper. He apologises for wasting for efforts, but she replies that she can just make it again. Rather, she’s sorry for not noticing that he was feeling unwell. Shirayuki says that she isn’t at fault, and she directs that statement back at him too.

Shirayuki: ………………you don’t hate me?
Yurika: Why?
Shirayuki: You saw such a disgraceful sight……
Yurika: Anyone has times when they don’t feel well.
Shirayuki: That’s not it.

He remarks in a firm tone, before quietly adding that it’s not that he’s feeling unwell. Yurika is confused. It seems that she used a wrong choice of words. It’s for certain that he doesn’t seem to have a fever though. She can’t read his expression, but observes that his long eyelashes are slightly trembling.

Shirayuki: ……why do you try to enter into my heart?
Yurika: Eh?
Shirayuki: It would’ve been better if you always remained a princess out of reach……
Yurika: What’s wrong? All of a sudden……
Shirayuki: …………the apple pie you made……was very bad.

The next night, Yurika visits the lake as always but Shirayuki is nowhere insight. The next night, and the next night too – Shirayuki does not show up.

Flashback

Brother: Hey……Yurika.
Yurika: How many years ago did brother meet him?
Brother: ……six years ago.
Yurika: He’s always been sleeping right.
Brother: Aah……he’s a smart fellow. He can sharply observe the true nature of things. He knew all of the truth. And chose to continue sleeping.
Yurika: He’s a very kind person indeed. I think that I would’ve surely fallen for him. Does brother want to save him? Do you want to wake him up if there is a way?
Brother: ……hey, Yurika.
Yurika: I want to save him.
Brother: Yurika. Don’t do anything unnecessary. Things have been put to a rest with him asleep. There’s no need to deliberately aggravate things and cause problems again.
Yurika: But nothing is being solved. After all, he’s only sleeping. His wounds aren’t being healed. Brother actually knows this right?

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

Shirayuki is curled up into a ball, and Ryoushi asks if he’s not going to the lake. When he asks the reason why he isn’t going, Shirayuki curls up even smaller. His disgraceful side was seen, he’s surely hated now. The older man laughs at how he’s such a brat. The younger boy can’t find it in him to get angry. After all, he himself knows best.

Ryoushi: I believe that she’s waiting though?
Shirayuki: ……why.
Ryoushi: Well, probably for the same reason as you.
Shirayuki: The same reason as me……? But she isn’t “me”.
Ryoushi: She’s waiting because she isn’t “you”.
Shirayuki: …………

That’s right, she’s different. That’s why he’s attracted to her, and didn’t stop meeting her. He asks Ryoushi just what she is. She suddenly appeared before him, and slowly changed his world. It was only curiousity at first. But the more he got to know her, he grew to want to know her more. His mood is shifted with her every word, and before he realises it he’s thinking about her.

Shirayuki: She’s foreign. If I meet her any more than this, my world will be destroyed.

Back to Yurika’s POV

It’s nighttime. Yurika takes an apple pie out from the fridge. It looks normal, be it outside or inside. Cinderella enters the kitchen, looking for her. She calls out to him, feeding him a piece of pie. She asks for his opinion, and he answers that it’s delicious. She herself has also ate it over and over again – but it’s delicious to her too. Maybe some people don’t like the cinnamon taste. But she recalls that Shirayuki’s mother also used it in hers. Her brother kindly asks what’s wrong, and she replies that a certain someone commented that her apple pie tasted bad. He points out that perhaps she mistook salt for sugar, but she is sure that she made sure to taste it first. Cinderella suggests that perhaps the person doesn’t like apple pie, but she tells him that it happens to be the person’s favourite food. He’s at a loss too. To be honest, that’s not the only thing that’s bothering her. After all, Shirayuki stopped coming to the lake ever since then.

Yurika: Am I hated now……
Cinderella: Is that about the rumoured prince?
Yurika: Yes……
Cinderella: ……well, you know. Don’t mind it so much just because you were dumped by a man.

His tone is cheerful, and he pats her back encouragingly. Yurika looks down, wondering if she was dumped. The thing she didn’t want to think about the most is being pointed out to her, and she starts to tear up. The next moment, Akazukin and Kaguya rush out (apparently they had been hiding).

Kaguya: Ah–! Brother Cinderella!! You shouldn’t say it do directly!
Akazukin: That’s right!! After accompanying his whims every night, for you to be dumped……!
Yurika: …………
Kaguya: Brother Akazukin!!
Akazukin: Eh? Ah……! I-I’m sorry!
Yurika: Ahahahahaha……

It’s too late, as she starts to cry.

Kaguya: Princess! There’s no need to feel bad, the number of men out there are countless like stars! Next time for sure!!
Akazukin: That’s right! He was only playing with you!! Please don’t feel bad!!
Cinderella: It may hurt now, but time will heal everything. Hurry up and forget about the man who dumped you.

As expected, Cinderella is the one who provides the most sensible advice. Though everyone is speaking as if she’s already dumped. But from a third person’s perspective, that would be the case. Her legs give way, and she collapses to the floor. Kaguya panics. Yurika finds it hard to recover from the thought that she’s been rejected.

Yurika: ……I’m being hated.
Kaguya?: That’s right.

She lies flat, and Kaguya cries out while shaking her. Yurika can only think how sadistic he is to look so worried, despite dealing the final blow.

Kaguya: Gretel-kun! Will you stop imitating me!?
Gretel: I’m sorry, it slipped out.

Yurika sees her youngest brother smiling pleasantly. But he soon frowns and tells her not to make such a face. He tells her to cheer up, while feeding her a cookie.

Yurika: ……it’s delicious.
Gretel: Of course. If I mistake such a delicious thing as bad, I would suspect that I have taste disorder.
Kaguya: Taste disorder?

Gretel explains that it refers to a lessening of the taste sensations, and sometimes even a loss of it. In other words, the taste of the food will change. But there are different symptoms for this and it differs for each person. For example you won’t be able to taste a certain taste, or everything will taste bland, or everything will taste foul. His words causes Yurika to recall how Shirayuki reacted. Kaguya asks if she thought of anything. She recalls how Shirayuki threw up the apple pie, and never once ate any of her food before that.

Akazukin suggests that perhaps he has this disorder then. Kaguya mentions that there is anorexia too. Cinderella notes that it’s when women eat and force themselves to throw up as they don’t want to get fat. Akazukin observes that Shirayuki is already pretty slender. Gretel says that men also have it too. And those people will always see themselves as fat, no matter how slim they are. Akazukin thinks that it’s better and healthier for women to be a bit plump though.

Gretel: Are you trying to up your favourability, brother Akazukin.
Akazukin: Good guy rating? Are you saying that I’m manly?
Cinderella: I feel that the words are written strangely.

(Note: Gretel says 好感度 but Akazukin mistakes it for 好漢度. Both have the same pronunciation.) Gretel recalls the awful-tasting apple pie from the other day. Cinderella wonders if that person is also unable to taste anything. Kaguya suggests that the person may also be trying to harass Yurika.

Cinderella: Uwah. Your way of thinking is subservient–
Gretel: As expected of brother Kaguya. You’re gloomy and twisted as always!
Kaguya: ……realise already that it’s your harassment in addition to further harassment which caused me to be subservient and gloomy!

The youngest brother switches the topic back to the taste disorder. Yurika isn’t sure if that’s the case. Cinderella notes that she hasn’t been dumped then, and she realises that he hasn’t said that he hates her. The oldest brother suggests meeting the prince directly then. It’s as if his words clears the fog before her eyes. That’s just it. Why didn’t she think of it before? After all, she knows where he lives and she knows his mother. If he isn’t coming, she just needs to take the initiative, and hear from him directly. She asks about the cafe, and he replies that she is the poster girl – so it won’t help sales if she isn’t smiling. Thrilled, she hugs him. Gretel points out that business is rather desolated here though, and the eldest tells him to zip his mouth.

When it’s afternoon, Yurika makes her way to the mansion. Will Shirayuki appear before her? She takes a deep breath, and knocks on the door. His mother answers the door, enthralled to see her and can’t help but pull her into a hug. The mother invites her in as if she were an old friend, leading her to the living-room. Yurika presents some snacks she bought from a well-known store, as recommended to her by Gretel. She would’ve preferred to make something herself, but after the incident with Shirayuki, this would be the safe choice. His mother thanks her, adding that she loves the snacks from the store. She brings the snack to the kitchen first, while also going to prepare some tea.

Left alone, Yurika heaves a sigh. While she thinks that his mother seems to be a good person, this is the mother of the person she likes. So she can’t help but be nervous. Moreover, the person she likes is intentionally avoiding her. She glances around the room, noting how spacious the place is. They are indeed wealthy. That being said, she has only seen the two of them in such a big mansion. His mother returns, and Yurika quickly wears a smile. She now has to find the right time to ask about Shirayuki. But his mother first asks how the apple pie was. She replies that it was delicious, and the mother looks glad, willing to make it for her again. It doesn’t appear as though it was harassment then, but just a pure coincidence?

As she sips her tea, she observes the mother happily eating the langue de chat she had brought. She remarks that it’s delicious. Yurika sees that she doesn’t seem to be lying. So she shouldn’t have any taste disorder. Once more, Yurika tries to ask about Shirayuki. But his mother cuts in, reminded that she had prepared clothes for Yurika.

After that, Yurika ends up spending over an hour trying on clothes. The mother is delighted each time she sees her, praising her cute appearance and quickly handing her the next item. Yurika can only nod and go with the flow. While she is happy to be complimented, she isn’t so sure anymore if those words still apply when she’s praised every time. While changing, Yurika glances around the room. It’s full of expensive furniture, but everything gives off a calm and mature feel. His mother hums while picking out the next item. She can only wonder how many more times she has to change. There is already a pile of clothes on the bed, full of cute frills, ribbons, floral corsages, lace and so on. Truly a girl’s dream and ideal situation.

Once she’s done, his mother praises her again – but finds something lacking. It’s a new response. She quickly takes out a butterfly hair piece, and sees that it suits Yurika. She adds that she should arrange her hair too, and Yurika obediently sits down. As the mother happily combs her hair, Yurika smiles and innocently remarks that she seems to be having fun. The older woman acknowledges this, and apologises for having her listen to her selfish requests. Yurika replies that it’s fun for her too, and that she doesn’t find it a bother.

Her mother compliments her fluffy hair, adding that she can arrange it in many ways. She thinks that it’s good for a girl to be more flamboyant – her appearance is especially so. Her bright fluffy hair, and dazzling eyes like jewels. She really is like a princess from a storybook. Those words truly make Yurika happy, so she thanks his mother. His mother seems to resemble someone in how different she is, but she is still a kind person.

His mother shares that her family ran a ryokan, so she was never really allowed to do as she wanted. It was a traditional family, and her parents were strict. While other kids her age would be playing house and with dolls, she would be training. The only enjoyment she was allowed was books. There was a certain type which captured her young heart. Yurika guesses correctly that it’s fairytales. The mother adds that she especially loved those about princesses. The ladies in the stories met countless difficulties, and their lives were full of ups and downs. They taught her how to dream. They taught the girl who had only known a grey world, that there was a sparkling world. And so the young her started to dream, that one day a wonderful prince will come for the pitiful her. As time passed and she became an adult, he appeared before her. A prince from a far away kingdom with shiny hair and sparkling eyes came for her.

She threw away everything for him – her family, friends, ties. But in exchange, he gave her a dream. The dance parties she yearned for, the pretty dresses, a large home like a castle. She was happy. She truly believed that everything was going well. But that was just an empty dream. She couldn’t become a princess in the end. Yurika remains quiet, and his mother apologises for talking about this. She’s finished arranging her hair, and passes the mirror to Yurika. The latter genuinely finds the girly style cute. The mother aims for an innocent style next, and Yurika is determined to accompany her till she gets tired of this.

Before that though, she casually asks about Shirayuki. His mother replies that he’s in his room, and didn’t come out even though she told him about her visit. She supposes that he’s embarrassed. Yurika notes that he’s avoiding her. His mother asks if she has anything to do with him, and Yurika shakes her head. She won’t force him to see her – at least for now. After that, she ends up changing about 5 mores times till the dress-up session ends. His mother offers for her to take back all the clothes she likes, and she firmly refuses. She had thought that only Cinderella was this indulgent, like an Arab oil tycoon, in his gift-giving – but apparently there’s one more similar person here. The mother is disappointed, but then notices that she’s still wearing the hair decoration and asks her to take it instead. After all, it’ll be better for someone as cute as her to wear it. She adds that it no longer suits her.

In the end, she didn’t get to meet Shirayuki. She basically enjoyed her dress-up time with his mother. On her way back, Yurika feels a sharp pain in her head. Could she be thinking too much lately? Kaguya welcomes her back, but another sharp pain hits her and she collapses to the floor. He asks if she’s alright, but he freezes when she meets his gaze. With a pale face, he tells her to remain still. It’s rare for him to be this shaken. The next moment, a large moth enters her vision and she lets out a soundless scream. She shuts her eyes, and soon he catches it and releases it outside. He reassures her that it’s fine already, and she leaps into his arms. While he comforts her, she realises something and quickly touches her hair. The butterfly accessory from Shirayuki’s mother is gone.

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

Shirayuki knocks and enters his mother’s room. He sees the pile of dresses, and asks if she came (wore them). His mother spins around with a smile, acknowledging this. Her appearance shocks him. The silver hair is now an ebony black. Her complexion is white as snow, with rosy cheeks. An appearance similar but also not similar to him. He can only utter “why”, but he himself already knew that this would happen. Each time he met Yurika, the sealed memories are reawakened and eventually the positions will be flipped.

Mother: Fluffy hair! Dazzling eyes like jewels! What a cute, cute doll! She is truly a princess!

She speaks as if she’s dreaming, in a delighted voice and in a beautiful look – just like how she was in the past. She wonders if that girl will come again, to wear more pretty clothes and to eat more delicious food. All of a sudden, she glares at him and speaks in an icy tone.

Mother: Yet……why are you here?
Shirayuki: Mother……?
Mother: Don’t call me mother!!
Shirayuki: !

His kind mother who loves him, is no longer there. She remarks that she isn’t his mother, but collapses as her head is in pain. Shirayuki rushes to her side, apologising and pleading for her not to change.

Back to Yurika’s POV

Yurika sits by the lake at night. The apple pie and the hair accessory she received from his mother, changed into a rotted apple pie and a moth. Something feels off, and she could’ve believe her eyes. There could still be a plausible explanation for the apple pie, but there isn’t any for the hair accessory. She would’ve noticed a moth as big as that on her hair right away. But she didn’t, till Kaguya pointed it out. It’s unbelievable. This couldn’t happen unless it was magic.

Yurika: Magic……miracles……unscientific things. Fairytales……

Moreover, there’s Shirayuki’s reaction. His mother’s reaction. Whether it’s positive or negative, they are interested in her. And all of these incidents started since she met Shirayuki. Could she have been caught in someone’s trap? Just then, a familiar voice calls out to her. It’s Shirayuki, standing behind here with a rather annoyed face. She’s delighted to see him, thanking him for coming. He replies that he didn’t come because he wanted to, and avoids her gaze.

Shirayuki: ……why are you here?
Yurika: Why……it can only be because I want to see Shirayuki-kun.
Shirayuki: To see me……why? Even though I hurt you……
Yurika: ……So Shirayuki-kun has been concerned about me.
Shirayuki: ……huh?

The jots are finally connected, as to why he stopped coming to the lake. She had thought that he didn’t want to see her again, since he deliberately parted ways with her with a hurtful comment. But she was wrong. He thought that she hated him, that’s why he stopped coming.

Yurika: Does Shirayuki-kun want me to hate you?
Shirayuki: …………

She chuckles, and adds that she won’t be hurt by just that comment. Even harsher words aren’t enough for that. He’d need to employ another method.

Shirayuki: ……are you fine with being hated?
Yurika: I wouldn’t like that. But I will do anything to save you. Because I’m persistent.
Shirayuki: ……I know. Have you been waiting ever since then?
Yurika: Of course……achoo!
Shirayuki: ……are you cold?
Yurika: Yes, well……

All of a sudden, he takes her cold hand and starts blowing onto it. To be honest, her mind can’t catch up to the abrupt change of events. They had been talking about something serious just now, and he’s doing this out of the blue. When he asks if it’s a bit warmer, she firmly replies that it’s not. He blows on her hand again, and she feels her whole body burning up. Since he’s holding her hand, he should’ve noticed it too. But he doesn’t let go. He tells her not to come anymore, not to the lake nor to his house. When she meets him, nothing good ever comes out of it. It’s as if he knows what happened with his mother, including today. And it sounds like a warning from him. But that’s why approached her. She sees that he’s a kind person after all.

taialiep3s-4

Yurika: I don’t think that way. I have been happy ever since meeting Shirayuki-kun.
Shirayuki: Happy?
Yurika: Yes! ……say, why did Shirayuki-kun come to the lake?
Shirayuki: Of course that’s–
Yurika: Because you wanted to see me right?
Shirayuki: ………………you really think to your own convenience.
Yurika: Please say that I’m positive. Shirayuki-kun came here because you knew that I would be here right?
Shirayuki: ……that’s right. I……always wanted to see you.
Yurika: I’ll be here.
Shirayuki: ……I know.

He releases her hand and takes a step back. He’s going back. But he soon stops in his tracks.

Shirayuki: ……do you realise something off about this world?
Yurika: Eh?

It was as if he read her mind, for she’s in the midst of suspecting this world (situation).

Shirayuki: If you are lost on the path you take, I shall give you a hint. It is a very unreasonable thing. Anyone can have it. But it disappears once you obtain it. Anyone can see it. But once you open your eyes, it vanishes without a trace ……you know it right? Arisu.

At night, Yurika lies in her bed, pondering over the riddle. It may be easy to just solve it, but she feels that there’s something more to it. In any case, she sorts out what she does know first.

  1. Shirayuki gave her a riddle.
  2. Shirayuki lives in a mansion in the forest.
  3. Shirayuki threw up the apple pie she made for him.
  4. Shirayuki hates his own looks. Especially if others see him like a girl.
  5. He doesn’t want his mother to know about their relationship.
  6. Shirayuki had a very good friend.

As for his mother……

  1. The two items received from Shirayuki’s mother were spoiled when she brought them back.
  2. Shirayuki’s mother wanted to become a princess.
  3. Shirayuki’s mother is favourable towards her.

It appears that there may be a link between Shirayuki hating his own looks, and his mother wanting to become a princess. But in the first place, she isn’t sure of their relationship. Honestly, there’s too little hints, almost like a crossword puzzle.

Yurika: Crossword……word play……

A quiz making use of word play. And the quiz always has an answer. Well in any case, she will need to make more contact with Shirayuki and his mother. But she cannot just simply meet them. She needs to prepare something too. Yurika spots a book shelf at the corner of her eye. Speaking of which, both Shirayuki and his mother like books.

The next day, Yurika stands before a book shelf in a book store in the mirror world. She’s here to pick a gift for Shirayuki. She goes to the children’s section and picks out a book. When she’s done, she heads back to the cafe. She notices that there’s lesser people on the streets. There will be lesser tourists here in winter. But were there so many stores with their shutters down before? Just then, someone calls out to her. It’s Shirayuki’s mother. But she’s startled by her ebony black hair, white snow-like complexion and rosy cheeks. Yurika tries to reply naturally, but can’t help but stare. When his mother asks what’s wrong, she honestly remarks that she’s beautiful as always. Honestly, the hair colour now suits her better. His mother happily pats her back, and asks if she will come to her place. Yurika replies that she’s on break, and has to return to the cafe.

Her mother looks disappointed, and then asks if she’s wearing her cafe uniform. She finds it cute, like cosplay. She thinks that it’s good to be young, noting that it must be cold. Yurika answers that her cafe is just close by, and invites his mother to drop by. Strangely, there’s no one inside the cafe – not even her brothers. When she remarks this, Shirayuki’s mother corrects her – wasn’t she an only child? Before she can react, her mother asks to be led to a seat. She looks through the menu, noting that the menu is all based on apples. She decides to order the apple pie, and a chamomile tea. Yurika doesn’t take long to serve it, feeling extremely nervous. After all, she’s being tested by her mother – and testing her too.

Her mother finds the tea and apple pie delicious, noting that the latter taste similar to hers. Yurika admits that she tried to replicate it, and the mother remarks that she could’ve just asked her directly. Yurika learns that she was missing lemon and brown sugar from her recipe, and will try it next time. His mother has always wished to have tea with a daughter like this, and suggests making an apple pie together next time. The idea seems very girly and wonderful to her. Yurika would’ve preferred to be approved of as a daughter-in-law rather than a daughter, but she nods at the suggestion anyway. The mother brings out her pinky finger, and they make a promise.

An innocent, cheerful and kind person. A mother who treats her well, like a real daughter. She doesn’t think that her good will is fake. Just then, the mother feels unwell, saying that she has a headache. Yurika suggests for her to lie down, observing that she has turned pale and that her lips have turned purple. The older woman forces a smile, saying that it’ll get better soon. She remarks that it’s getting late, and that she has to leave for work soon. Yurika is puzzled, for she lives in such a grand place and doesn’t look like she’s working. Moreover, she stated that she wasn’t busy when Yurika invited her to the cafe. As she prepares to leave, Yurika tells her not to push herself. His mother thanks her, before staring at her face.

Mother: Um this may be a strange request……but could you say “I’ll see you later”? If Arisu-chan says it, I feel like I can work hard.

There’s no way she can refuse, so Yurika sees her off with a beaming smile.

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

Shirayuki welcomes his mother back, and she notes that he’s still around. Her gaze and her voice is as cold as ice. Shirayuki freezes on the spot, seeing that her expression is the same as that time. Her mood appears bad, with no wrinkles on her face but with dark circles under her eyes.

Mother: Hey. Please leave this house.
Shirayuki: ……why

Mirror mirror on the wall.

Mother: Why……you know what I’m saying don’t you? You’re an unwanted child. You’re unnecessary.

Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

Shirayuki: But……this is my home.
Mother: You’re wrong!! There’s no way this home is yours right? Arisu-chan will live in this house from now on. She is my real child! My cute daughter!! My princess!! So……disappear!!

She strangles him, putting more force into her hands when he struggles.

Mother: If it……if it weren’t for you!!

Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear.

Mother: If it weren’t for you, I could have been happy!! I could have been a princess!!

But before anyone noticed, the mirror became dirty and distorted everything it reflected. Shirayuki pushes her away, causing her to knock her head against the wall. She collapses, and he reels back in fear. Her pale face, purple lips, lifeless eyes which reflected the darkness. Unable to withstand the situation, he flees from the scene. He runs in the forest, it doesn’t matter where he goes. It’s not important. He trips over something, falling flat on his face. A single apple rolls before his eyes, and soon he sees someone standing before him.

Alice: The poor prince who wasn’t loved by his mother and chased out of the country.
Shirayuki: You are…………

The boy takes a bite out of the apple with a cold expression. Complexion as white as snow. Lips and cheeks as red as an apple. And dazzling hair. The one over there is another self which is reflected in the mirror.

Mirror mirror on the wall. Who is the fairest one of all in this world?

Alice: You were always envious of the princess who was loved unconditionally. She is a princess. Frills, ribbons and lace probably suit her. You were attracted to her, but was also jealous of her from the bottom of your heart.
Shirayuki: !
Alice: A mother complex.
Shirayuki: Shut up! If it weren’t for you!! If it weren’t for you, I could have been happy!! I could have been a prince!!
Alice: You’re the same as your mother.
Shirayuki: Ah……
Alice: ……Shirayuki. It’s true that your appearance does not bear the slightest resemblance to your mother, but you’re unmistakably a child who has inherited her blood.

Back to Yurika’s POV

It’s evening time. In the end, there were no customers. But the problem is Akazukin, Kaguya and Gretel haven’t returned home either. Cinderella kindly reassures her that they’ll be back soon. She takes his hand, worried that he may also disappear from her sight like the rest. He gently pats her head. Yurika remarks that he’s dependent, and he replies that he has to be. After all, they have no parents and he has to take care of these problematic kids. Something feels off about his words. Looking back, unnatural things keep standing out ever since she met Shirayuki and it’s been bugging her. It’s as if snow has been softly piling up in her heart. First she couldn’t recall who the brother who smoked was, then customers no longer came to the cafe, now there are lesser people on the streets. Speaking of which, even though the cafe was open, why couldn’t she recall that time?

She asks Cinderella if he remembers their mother. She recalled Shirayuki asking about her family. Why did he do so? Cinderella answers that he does, that she was a beautiful person. She was a person who loved sparkling things, and dreaming. She was kind, but also a bit overprotective. Whenever they were alone at home, she would always say that there are scary wolves out there so they can’t go outside. Yurika looks appalled and shakes her head, stating that she isn’t her mother. She grabs Cinderella, asking about her father. He replies with a nostalgic look that he’s a generous and good gentleman, but he’s also a weak-hearted person. He formed a lot of debt, and Cinderella doesn’t know where he’s gone to now.

But those two people are not familiar to Yurika. In her memory, they lived separately due to work. They were busy and always travelled to different places, and usually lived in house in the city. Her family was generations of hunters, but despite being the eldest daughter there wasn’t a need for her to take over the family trade. Why was that the case?

>> Because those parents never existed in the first place: At that moment, Akazukin returns with a bountiful find of mountain vegetables. She asks about Kaguya and Gretel, but he replies that he told Kaguya to mind the cafe while he was out. It’s unthinkable for Kaguya to break a promise. Yurika notes that Gretel hasn’t been seen anywhere since this morning. It’s as if people are disappearing from this world. The mystery of a world full of discomforts. People disappearing. Contradictions in perceptions. It’s incomprehensible. Overwhelmed with uneasiness, Yurika dashes out of the cafe.

This world is strange. After running for a while, she notices that darkness has enveloped the streets. There’s no buildings or people in sight. She feels a familiar sense of sadness, and at that moment something black leaps out. She instinctively closes her eyes, but nothing happens. She opens her eyes to see a black cat, and bends down to stroke it. Wizard greets her, finding this round a pity. At times he’s a supporter, at times he’s an enemy. He’s a fantasy and familiar existence. She tells him not to come any closer, and runs away. But he remarks that it’s useless to run away, as something clings to her feet and trips her. Her face twists in pain.

Wizard: Do you feel pain?
Yurika: Of course it’s painful……anyone will feel pain if they’re hurt……
Wizard: Hmm. I see. Then will it be painful if the heart is hurt?
Yurika: It will…………ugh.

She cannot find the strength to get up, and glares at him instead. He apologises, for he’s estranged from pain. She keenly concludes that he plans to kill her, and asks for the reason. When he answers that there’s no need since she’ll disappear, she insists on it. After all, villains always tells the truth to the victim so that they can go off in peace. Bemused, Wizard replies that she made a wrong choice. She didn’t save the prince. So she will die here and restart once more, like a game. She can start from a save point too. She’s confused, and he explains that her given role is a princess who will save the prince. This is a story of saving the prince. So she has to restart over and over if she fails to do so.

Yurika wonders if she is still herself after the restart. He doesn’t know, and honestly doesn’t care. She looks at him, commenting that she doesn’t understand him. But she does know that he is a pitiful person. He’s acting according to someone’s will, and has none of his own. He admits that it’s true, but doesn’t think much of it. He strangles her, and she desperately gasps for breath. She utters Shirayuki’s name, as her vision turns red. Wizard’s eyes look emotionless. But why does she feel no anger nor fear despite being strangled. She can’t help but find his hollow eyes pitiful.

Wizard: ……………………with this, it’s the end. This is fine right? Queen. Just as you said, I fulfilled my role! It’ll be good if the prince can be saved next time! With this, let’s start the real story!
Alice: You’re a pitiful fellow.
Wizard: ……you say the same line too.
Alice: She forced the most hated role onto you. A very useful pawn indeed.
Wizard: Yes. That’s right. But that’s her wish.
Alice: You’re fine with it?
Wizard: I never had any wishes to begin with. I had nothing. But she gave me a role. Sometimes as a supporter, and sometimes as an enemy, someone who can use mysterious powers. The most convenient existence for the plot. That’s me (wizard). This is a fake story. A bad end. It’s not the real story.
Alice: ……that’s right. Her stories always aim for happiness.
Wizard: I’m helping for the sake of her happiness. This child too.
Alice: ……I see.
Wizard: It will be nice if someday, a princess who will save you will appear.
Alice: Why do I need a princess?
Wizard: Because you are too pitiful.

(The Wizard’s Role 1)

>> (Note: If you chose something other than “children’s books”.) Because those parents never existed in the first place: At that moment, Akazukin returns with a bountiful find of mountain vegetables. She asks about Kaguya and Gretel, but he replies that he told Kaguya to mind the cafe while he was out. It’s unthinkable for Kaguya to break a promise. Yurika notes that Gretel hasn’t been seen anywhere since this morning. It’s as if people are disappearing from this world. The mystery of a world full of discomforts. People disappearing. Contradictions in perceptions. It’s incomprehensible. Overwhelmed with uneasiness, Yurika dashes out of the cafe.

This world is strange. After running for a while, she notices that darkness has enveloped the streets. There’s no buildings or people in sight. She feels a familiar sense of sadness, and at that moment something black leaps out. She instinctively closes her eyes, but nothing happens. She opens her eyes to see a black cat, and bends down to stroke it. Wizard greets her, explaining that she made a wrong choice. She will have to restart again if she wants to save him. Yurika is confused, so he offers her a peace of  mind before she dies – her role is the princess who will guide this slightly curious and distorted story to a happy end. She has to become the prince’s ideal. She has failed, so he has to end this story.

He strangles her, and she desperately gasps for breath and her vision turns red. Wizard’s eyes look emotionless. But why does she feel no anger nor fear despite being strangled. She can’t help but find his hollow eyes pitiful. He remarks that the real story shall start from here on. (The Wizard’s Role 4)

>> Because I had a brother: Yurika ponders over Shirayuki’s riddle. He seems to have noticed something off about this world, and that she herself has been witnessing it. He said that he will tell her the way, if she is lost. “It is a very unreasonable thing. Anyone can have it. But it disappears once you obtain it. Anyone can see it. But once you open your eyes, it vanishes without a trace” – the answer is……

>> Mirror: A mirror? She tries imagining it as the answer, but she still doesn’t get it. At that moment, Akazukin returns with a bountiful find of mountain vegetables. She asks about Kaguya and Gretel, but he replies that he told Kaguya to mind the cafe while he was out. It’s unthinkable for Kaguya to break a promise. Yurika notes that Gretel hasn’t been seen anywhere since this morning. It’s as if people are disappearing from this world. The mystery of a world full of discomforts. People disappearing. Contradictions in perceptions. It’s incomprehensible. Overwhelmed with uneasiness, Yurika dashes out of the cafe.

This world is strange. After running for a while, she notices that darkness has enveloped the streets. There’s no buildings or people in sight. She feels a familiar sense of sadness, and at that moment something black leaps out. She instinctively closes her eyes, but nothing happens. She opens her eyes to see a black cat, and bends down to stroke it. But before she can do so, something hits her back and there is a burning sensation. Yurika slowly turns around, and sees a man dressed in black. His eyes look hollow, and it makes her chest ache. He remarks that she can only be swallowed up by the darkness, since she has come this far. A story doesn’t need the same character. So the pawn who has lost needs to retreat. He remarks that the real story shall start from here on. (The Wizard’s Role 2)

>> Death: Death? She trembles the moment she imagines it. At that moment, Akazukin returns with a bountiful find of mountain vegetables. She asks about Kaguya and Gretel, but he replies that he told Kaguya to mind the cafe while he was out. It’s unthinkable for Kaguya to break a promise. Yurika notes that Gretel hasn’t been seen anywhere since this morning. It’s as if people are disappearing from this world. The mystery of a world full of discomforts. People disappearing. Contradictions in perceptions. It’s incomprehensible. Overwhelmed with uneasiness, Yurika dashes out of the cafe.

This world is strange. After running for a while, she notices that darkness has enveloped the streets. There’s no buildings or people in sight. She feels a familiar sense of sadness. The moment she stops in her tracks, something pierces through the wind. Before she realises it, she’s collapsed. Her vision turns red, and her chest burns. Someone looks down at her. She cries for help, and fails to reach out her hand for help. Gazing coldly at her, the man steps on her hand. It hurts so much that she can’t even scream. He bids her farewell, hoping that her prince can be happy in the next story. His voice lacks emotions, and sounds hollow. (The Wizard’s Role 3)

>> (Note: If you chose something other than “children’s books”, and then “Because I had a brother”.) Mirror: A mirror? She tries imagining it as the answer, but she still doesn’t get it. At that moment, Akazukin returns with a bountiful find of mountain vegetables. She asks about Kaguya and Gretel, but he replies that he told Kaguya to mind the cafe while he was out. It’s unthinkable for Kaguya to break a promise. Yurika notes that Gretel hasn’t been seen anywhere since this morning. It’s as if people are disappearing from this world. The mystery of a world full of discomforts. People disappearing. Contradictions in perceptions. It’s incomprehensible. Overwhelmed with uneasiness, Yurika dashes out of the cafe.

This world is strange. After running for a while, she notices that darkness has enveloped the streets. There’s no buildings or people in sight. She feels a familiar sense of sadness, and at that moment something hits her. Wizard appears, tired of this. He almost suspects if this is deliberate. Someone told him that he is pitiful, and he asks her if he is. There’s no answer. He remarks that he has killed her countless times, and he will be killed by her one day. Even so, he will follow her.  (The Wizard’s Role 5)

>> (Note: If you chose something other than “children’s books”, and then “Because I had a brother”.) Death: Death? She trembles the moment she imagines it. At that moment, Akazukin returns with a bountiful find of mountain vegetables. She asks about Kaguya and Gretel, but he replies that he told Kaguya to mind the cafe while he was out. It’s unthinkable for Kaguya to break a promise. Yurika notes that Gretel hasn’t been seen anywhere since this morning. It’s as if people are disappearing from this world. The mystery of a world full of discomforts. People disappearing. Contradictions in perceptions. It’s incomprehensible. Overwhelmed with uneasiness, Yurika dashes out of the cafe.

This world is strange. After running for a while, she notices that darkness has enveloped the streets. There’s no buildings or people in sight. She feels a familiar sense of sadness. The moment she stops in her tracks, and at that moment something hits her. A figure silently watches her. (The Wizard’s Role 6)

(Note: Now that all of these “bad ends” are out of the way, let’s move on!)

>> Dream: Why didn’t she realise it? Shirayuki gave her a hint from the start. The mystery of a world full of discomforts. People disappearing. Contradictions in perceptions. All of these point to one answer……when she tries to tell Cinderella, suddenly something strangles at her neck. She coughs violently and collapses to the floor. In an attempt to escape from the pain, she stretches out her hand – but she touches something slithery. Yurika instinctively draws her hand back, seeing something thin and black. Is it a string? When she tries to pick it up, Cinderella grabs her tightly. It’s a snake, and it stares at her with its black eyes. He firmly tells her to stay back, while he cautiously approaches the snake.

At that moment, Akazukin returns and the snake makes it escape. He’s puzzled by the situation, and Cinderella explains that a snake appeared. The second brother is confused, since it is winter now. Yurika looks back on the rotten apple pie, the moth, and now the snake. What all these have in common is – poison. Akazukin asks what happened to her neck. Flustered, she checks in the mirror, only to find red marks on her neck as if she was strangled by something.

A poison apple, poison comb, a silk laced bodice. The story which has all of these items, is one in which the “princess” was harassed by the mother who disguises herself as an old lady. The doubts she had are gradually dispelled. At that moment, she realises that someone is looking at her in the mirror. She looks at her reflection in the eye. Complexion as white as snow. Lips and cheeks as red as an apple. And dazzling hair. Is the person reflected in the mirror the real her? She doesn’t know why that thought passes through her mind. But she can’t help but think that isn’t her, but someone else.

She unwittingly asks who is reflected in the mirror. And the one in the mirror replies that it’s her.

Flashback

Yurika enters a white (hospital?) room. She greets the sleeping figure, whom she had heard about from her brother. She could tell that he was a wonderful boy. She had always wanted to meet him, and to talk to him. Her brother will never admit it, but he wants to see him too. The prince like snow remains silent. Yurika wonders what dream he’s seeing, and if he can hear her voice. He chose to remain sleeping in his inner conscious, but that doesn’t mean that he’s disappeared. So it’ll be good if her “words” could reach him someplace.

Six years ago, he looked into the magic mirror. Having known the truth, he went to sleep while having these painful and difficult memories and emotions. She finds him too kind, and too pure. Even now, he is still seeing a nightmare. She will save him now, and tells him to wait.

End of Flashback

Yurika arrives at the lake, and spots Shirayuki sitting at the pier as always. When she calls out to him, his pale face gradually looks her way in the moonlight. He can tell that she knows the answer. She answers that she does, but she’s not confident as she doesn’t really have solid proof. Even if she does know, it’s a hard story to believe and there are still many things she doesn’t know. Shirayuki replies that he’d expected her to figure it out. Yurika sees that he always wanted her to realise it, that’s why he kept giving her hints. She apologises for figuring it out late. He smiles, remarking that she’s very similar to his friend. He knew from the moment he first met her. While he had only seen a photo of her younger self, he could tell that her jewel-like eyes have not changed at all.

Shirayuki: You stole my heart in an instance……I……have always wanted to meet you……

At that moment, he falls to the ground and she rushes to his side. He does not respond when she calls his name, and his body is extremely cold. He seems to have passed out. She puts her own jacket over him, and undoes his collar so that he can be more relaxed. But she sees several red marks on his white neck. Just then, Cinderella and Akazukin appear at the right time. They help her carry him, noting that Shirayuki’s extremely light. When asked if he should be brought to the hospital, she mulls over this before answering that they’ll bring him home. In a normal situation, one would go to the hospital. But this is not a normal situation. The two brothers furrow their eyebrows, but agree to follow her words.

Back in her room, Shirayuki trembles while lying on her bed. Yurika takes his hand, blowing onto it. She should’ve realised it earlier. His pale complexion and cold body were all signs of anemia. Soon, he wakes up and looks around. He comments that it’s a girly room indeed.

Yurika: Because I’m a girl.
Shirayuki: ……that’s right.
Yurika: You’re a boy.
Shirayuki: Yes……I’m a boy……that’s why I couldn’t become a princess. I thought that if I couldn’t become a princess, then I could become a prince. A prince who will save the princess. But I couldn’t even become a prince……
Yurika: Shirayuki-kun. I think that it’s good that you are a boy. Because you are my prince.
Shirayuki: ……I can’t save you.
Yurika: That’s not true.

She recalls their first encounter, when he saved her when her hair was caught in a branch. So it’s her turn this time. Everything is flipped about in this mirror world. So she will save him.

Later, Cinderella finds her in the kitchen. She takes out all the ingredients from the fridge, determined to make something – anything – which Shirayuki may be able to eat. Akazukin comes along, and both brothers offer to help her. This is a cafe, a place where the guest can have delicious food and a peace of mind.

Shirayuki is impressed with the amount of food on the tables, to which Yurika explains that they made it all for him. She leads him to the table, telling him to pick what he likes – it’s his own buffet. He stands there with an empty plate, unable to choose anything for it’s impossible. Cinderella gently encourages him to try, while Akazukin points out that Yurika did all this for him. The younger boy strongly remarks that he knows, but he’s afraid that his body wouldn’t be able to accept it. Anything he eats, tastes awful. There’ll be a strange scent and his mouth will be overwhelmed by bitterness, causing him to throw up. That’s why he never touched any of the food Yurika made.

Yurika takes his hands, asking if he never ate anything all this time. He remains quiet. She says that she won’t mind even if he throws up or says that it tastes bad. She will keep trying till he says that it tastes delicious. She said that she will save him. In order to do that, she will need to remove the root of his problems, or find a compromise. If not, he will remain trapped in this daydream. She will do anything to save him. Surely that’s the reason why she’s here.

Shirayuki: Even if……you die?
Yurika: I……

When she’s about to answer, his mother comes dashing in. She’s relieved to see that Yurika’s fine and hugs her – not Shirayuki. She’s even crying, and thought that her heart would stop when she heard that Yurika fainted. She reprimands Yurika for going outside despite her warnings. There are scary wolves outside, who will immediately eat her up. She glances around, and coldly asks who the rest are, and if they did anything to her. Shirayuki looks terrified, while Cinderella replies that they didn’t do anything. But the mother tells him not to come any closer, hugging Yurika tightly. Shirayuki calls out to his mother, but she fiercely denies that he’s her child. Her child is Yurika, and she won’t hand her over. She raises her voice and glares at them with teary eyes. She’s trembling, but also desperate to protect her from “someone”. The mother then kindly tells Yurika to return home together, she will always protect her.

Yurika is led to a small house in the forest, sitting in the same spot where the mansion was before. The mother calls this their small, small castle – where she can always protect her. The extravagant furniture has turned into simple ones, and the wide rooms have turned into a compact one. It’s as if the magic was undone. It’s curious, incomprehensible, and absurd. But a certain word makes everything fall into place. The mother gently strokes her cheek.

Mother: Arisu……Listen well? You’re different from the other children, you’re a very good child. So you can’t play outside. Everyone around you is a wolf. There’s no telling what bad things wolves will do, so ignore them even if they approach you. When mother is not around, you have to properly watch the house. If anyone comes to this house, you should never let them in.
Yurika: …………
Mother: What’s wrong? Arisu……
Yurika: Mother. Why are you trying to lock me up?
Mother: That……I said it right? It’s dangerous outside……
Yurika: It’s true that there are many dangers in the outside world. But I am not as weak as mother thinks.
Mother: What are you saying! Have you forgotten? Everyone look at you with curious eyes when you went outside……the small you can’t endure it!
Yurika: I’m already an adult. I can face the public eye.
Mother: It’s impossible! You can’t face it! ……and you won’t get hurt if you don’t go outside. You also won’t get lost.
Yurika: But there are many things you won’t know if you don’t go outside.
Mother: The truth isn’t always good!
Yurika: That may be true. You may not get hurt if you don’t know. Even so, I should know. That the outside world is filled with gentle light. That there are many people outside, that there are not only cold people but also kind people.
Mother: I don’t care!! You just need to listen to me! That’s your happiness!
Yurika: He is himself! You should know that best!
Mother: !
Yurika: ……mother. I like you. You are a cheerful, innocent, kind woman…..who is like a girl always dreaming. I think that it’s surely the same for Shirayuki-kun. Shirayuki-kun loves mother. And mother loves him too. I don’t know what happened between him and mother. I think that it’s surely something painful which I can’t understand. But do you intend on always locking him in this small world? ……no, that’s not it. Say, Shirayuki-kun.
Mother: What are……
Yurika: How long do you plan on staying here all alone? You need to change. You need to leave here.
Mother: I……
Yurika: Shirayuki-kun. This is the world which you are dreaming.

She takes the chance to kiss him who is in his mother’s disguise. He’s taken by surprise, and she happily declares that it’s checkmate – and her win. Immediately there is the sound of glass breaking, and it turns dark. A strong stench also overwhelms her. Even covering her nose doesn’t help to block the smell. It’s different from the smell of rotting garbage. In any case, it makes her want to throw up. Yurika tears up, and tries to take a step forward. Her leg bumps into something. As her eyes adjust to the darkness, she sees that the room is filled with rubbish.

Shirayuki: ……it’s filthy right? The house is filled with rubbish. That’s a given since it hasn’t been cleaned up all this time.

She finds him standing in the darkness, with complexion white as snow, lips as red as an apple, bright platinum hair, big glistening eyes. She asks if this is his home.

Shirayuki: ……that’s right. ……I didn’t want you to see this. I wanted to remain beautiful before you. To remain a prince. But that’s just a dream. The real me is far from a prince, a mere filthy child.

Yurika spots someone else sitting in a chair next to him. The person is already decaying, and giving off a stench. He answers that it’s his mother.

Shirayuki: Who killed Cock Robin? I, said the Sparrow, with my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Robin.
Yurika: It’s Mother Goose.
Shirayuki: ……I thought that you would know. But the one who was killed isn’t Cock Robin, and the one who killed isn’t Sparrow. I’m the culprit who killed mother.
Yurika: That’s a lie.
Shirayuki: It’s not a lie. I drove mother to her death.

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

What he remembers is white snow. What he remembers is the story his mother told him. Once upon a time, there was a queen who was sitting by an ebony window frame, gazing at the falling snow while sewing. However, she carelessly pricked her own finger. The blood from her finger fell on the white snow and spread like a red rose. Upon seeing that, the queen was sure that she would soon give birth to a child with complexion as white as snow, cheeks and lips as red as blood, and hair as black as the window frame’s ebony tree. True enough, she gave birth to a beautiful girl with complexion as white as snow, cheeks and lips as red as blood, and hair as black as the window frame’s ebony tree. The queen named the girl “Princess Shirayuki”.

His mother stroked his head while he pretended to sleep, and saw the snow falling outside. Frills, lace, many ribbons – she had always admired them. Brilliant dance parties, pretty dresses, and a house as big as a castle. She had wanted to become like a princess she so dearly loved. She wondered where she went wrong.

It was a very chilly night. Shirayuki gazed at the outside world through the window. White snow was falling from the grey sky. Even without any light, the night and even the world looked like it was glowing thanks to the snow. He heard his mother coming home, and switching on the lights. He welcomed her back, and she apologised for being late. She asked if he has eaten, and he shook his head. The him reflected in her eyes looked so small and faint, that he couldn’t tell if that was the real him. His mother is puzzled, since she left the money on the table.

When he remained quiet, she spotted the toy on his bed and picked it up. She saw that he bought something unnecessary again. Her voice was a mixture of anger and sadness. Thinking that she’s angry, he shut his eyes. But instead of being hit, he was hugged by his mother. She apologised while crying, and he asked for the reason.

Mother: I leave you all alone, when you’re so young……I can’t even buy your favourite things……I’m sorry for only giving you hardship……
Shirayuki: Mother…………

He didn’t understand why his mother was apologising, but he knew that his existence made her cry. He can only apologise in return. It’s very sad. Thinking that his existence is putting her in pain, makes his chest tighten up. That’s why he strongly wished to be someone his mother wishes for.

Shirayuki: Mother, don’t cry? I, will become mother’s princess……so don’t cry?

Frills, lace, and many ribbons. A big castle and pretty dresses. If his mother likes all these, then he strongly wished to become someone which suited them. He remembers well that his mother looked very hurt at this moment. He asked what was wrong, as the young him didn’t understand the implications. She gently stroked his head, telling him that he’s a boy so he can’t become a princess. He was very sad, that he couldn’t become an existence his beloved mother liked.

Mother: …… well. It’s true that I love princesses. But I also love “princes”.
Shirayuki: Prince?
Mother: Yes. He also appears in the stories I read to you right? A prince who saves the princess. You’re a “prince” because you’re a boy. And you’re also my “prince”.
Shirayuki: Mother’s prince? Then is mother a princess?
Mother: I’m your mother, so a princess is a bit different……

She showed a lonely smile. Wanting to please her, Shirayuki said that he will become her “prince”, and save her. She thanked him, calling him a very kind boy – as expected of her prince. His mother who gave birth to him while she was still young, was more beautiful than anyone else. He was proud of her. She was a woman who loved flowers, stories and was always dreaming, always like a girl. His mother offered to bake him his favourite apple pie since he hasn’t eaten. She bought a lot of it as it was cheap. Sometimes she would bake him apple pies when she’s free. It was more delicious than anything else in the world. Frills, lace, and many ribbons. A big castle and pretty dresses. There is nothing sparkling in their poor lives, but they were still happy.

His mother was a busy person. She would leave early in the morning, and return in the evening. She would do up her make-up prettily, and immediately leave for another job. When she left, she would always remind him not to let anyone inside while she was away. And he would always promise her. Shirayuki would read while she was out. The book was something his mother bought while on the way back. It depicted her favourite princess, who sparkled. Whilst reading, he would nod off to sleep. Before he realised it, the house is dark and he would look out of the window. His mother was still not back. He would continue reading, having nothing else to do. When he got sleepy, he would lie on the bed. It was a repeat of this everyday.

His mother would only return in the middle of the night. He actually would like her to read the book to him. But he couldn’t ask this of her when she’s tired. As he was pretending to sleep, she would hug him and whisper that she’s working hard for his sake. There was a sweet floral scent coming off her.

It was unusual but one day, his mother took a day off work. He was excited at seeing the white snow outside. It wasn’t rare for it to snow. But he was happy to come outside, especially with his mother. He spun around on the snow, but soon stopped. The white snow had turned black. His mother gazed at it, and remarked that it couldn’t be helped. Snow only piles on top of something, and hides the true figure underneath. He’s stepping on soil.

Mother: Snow will cover and hide anything.
Shirayuki: Anything?
Mother: Yes.
Shirayuki: …… ……

Those word sent a chill down his spine for some reason. Snow may cover and hide anything, but once it’s stepped on – it will mix with what it’s hiding and turn dirty. He sneezed, but refused to wear his mother’s overcoat. So she held his hand instead. His mother’s warm hand felt comfortable against his cold hand. As he walked down the shopping street with his mother, people kept staring at him. And he kept hearing the words “cute” and “pretty”. He didn’t understand why people were giggling and whispering while looking at him. But he didn’t feel uncomfortable since he felt no ill intent.

While buying dinner, they stopped by a vegetable and fruit store. The store lady smiled at him, commenting that he’s a cute child with big eyes, and offered him an apple. He was startled since it was the first time someone else gave him something, and his mother urged him to thank her. When he did, the lady looked surprised in return. He was unsure of the reason for this, as his mother dragged him away. No matter where he went or what he did, everyone said “cute” and treated him specially. When he asked his mother if he was cute, she heartily agreed.

Shirayuki: ……even though I’m not a princess.

To him, “cute” is a term reserved for girls. But he isn’t. While he doesn’t hate it, he can’t understand it. As he was walking, he spotted a small child walking with his mother. Who was that? When he stopped in his tracks, so did that child. When he let go of his mother’s hand and approached, so did that child. He reached out his hand, and so did that child. Their hands overlapped, but he didn’t feel any human warmth. The child looked at him with a shocked expression. Complexion as white as snow. Lips and cheeks as red as an apple. And dazzling hair. The child there had a unique appearance unlike anyone else. Who was this? When his mother kindly called out to him, he asked why doesn’t he look like her.

Before she could answer, boys around his age started making a commotion – calling him a foreigner, a girly boy. Unlike the adults, they looked at him as if he were foreign. Now he knew why everyone treated him specially. His looks were different. What was in front was just a glass panel, and the child standing next to his mother was none other than him. Feeling uneasy, he grabbed his mother’s clothes. His mother asked if he was being bullied. Black eyes and black hair, his mother who looked completely different from him. When he couldn’t answer, she glanced around and quickly left with him. She reassured him, for she will protect him. After that, she never let him out of the house. And she would always say this when she leaves.

Mother: Listen well? You’re different from the other children, you’re a very good child. So you can’t play outside. Everyone around you is a wolf. There’s no telling what bad things wolves will do, so ignore them even if they approach you. When mother is not around, you have to properly watch the house. If anyone comes to this house, you should never let them in.
Shirayuki: ……I understand. Mother.
Mother: ……be a good child. Then I’m leaving.
Shirayuki: …………

Left alone, Shirayuki looked outside. The gentle sunlight reflected off the white snow, making its surroundings sparkle. The day he went out with his mother was fun. I wanted to play one more time under the sunlight. But looking at his reflection, he thought that it was a dream that could never be fulfilled. With nothing else to do, he could only read. But he grew tired of it soon after. It was boring to keep reading the same book. The “princess” who captured his mother’s unconditional attention was also annoying. There was food on the table, and money too. It was a life without restrictions. If he stuck to his mother’s promise, nothing dangerous or bad will happen……should not happen.

Shirayuki welcomed his mother back. His beautiful mother gradually became more haggard and listless. Feeling uneasy, he eventually asked what her job was. She seemed to turn pale, and answered that she works as a florist. He asked if he could help too, wishing to relief her burden. She replied that it’s fine, for princes don’t need to work. She gently stroked his head. Her kindness and warmth remained the same. But he, a prince who couldn’t do anything for his mother, felt impatient. She apologised while hugging him. He realised that she was thinner than before. Suddenly, someone knocked violently at their door. His mother flinched, and muttered “again……”. He was confused, while his mother was clearly frightened.

She quickly led him to the close, hiding him inside. She urgently told him not to ever come out, and not to let out a sound. After the door was shut, he could hear an angry man’s voice and his mother apologising – that she will return the money soon. His mother seemed to be crying. Shirayuki could guess that something scary was happening, and his mother was desperately protecting him. He wanted to immediately go out and save her. But of all times, his legs wouldn’t move out of fear. A prince who saves the princess. He had promised to save his mother, but he’s the only always being protected. Later, his mother opened the cupboard and shook him. It appeared that he had fallen asleep. He rubbed his eyes, asking if he doesn’t need to hide anymore. She affirmed this, and welcomed him into a hug. Alongside the usual floral scent, there was a carnal-like ordour mixed in which is almost choking to him.

After that, his mother slowly changed. Her face was pale, and her face which had no wrinkles started to have dark circles. Her cheerful smile vanished, and she started taking lots of medicine. The clean room also started to accumulate trash. As the days passed by, a nasty stench grew.

Mother: Listen well? You’re different from the other children, you’re a very good child. So you can’t play outside. Everyone around you is a wolf. There’s no telling what bad things wolves will do, so ignore them even if they approach you. When mother is not around, you have to properly watch the house. If anyone comes to this house, you should never let them in.
Shirayuki: ……I understand. Mother.

She gradually did not prepare his food, and would return to the house fewer times. She did leave some money on the table in case of anything. But he found it curious since she told him not to go outside, so why would he need this. Food, money, they are not necessary for him. If he doesn’t move, he won’t get hungry. If he doesn’t go outside, he won’t need money.  By this time, his body already grew accustomed to sleeping in the daytime and getting up at night. Perhaps it was due to this, that he started seeing strange dreams.

In his dreams, he would be under the warm sunlight and listening to the waves. He recalled something someone once said to him. The waves beating the shore of the lake. It is like the wind is blowing the the waves further away and spreading it wider. It reminds one of the sea. Still, a lake is a lake, and not a sea. It is unlike the sea which connects to the world, and you are unable to go to a far away country. When he woke up, he found himself at home. There was no warm light or the sound of waves. Just his small, small home. The outside world is just a dream. So it should be fine for him to make his own dream out the way he wished. Along the way, he found himself playing with someone under the warm sunlight in his dream. It was very fun in his dream. But once he woke up in his dark home, he would know that the blissful feeling he felt was nothing but an illusion.

As those days continued, one day his mother unusually returned home early. She shouted at him, asking where he went. He didn’t know why she was angry, and could only answer honestly that he didn’t go anywhere. But she seemed to think that he was lying.

Mother: Don’t lie!! Why……? Why do you always lie……? What is this!? Who gave this!?

She threw out an unfamiliar-looking clothing. He replied that he doesn’t know, for he never saw it before. Her face twitched and she shook her head. There was fear in her eyes.

Mother: Say, answer me…………who are you……?
Shirayuki: I’m me……I’m mother’s child.
Mother: You’re wrong!! You’re not my child!!
Shirayuki: ……I’m not mother’s child? Because I don’t resemble mother……? These eyes, this hair, this skin……because none of this resembles you?
Mother: ……no! That’s not it!
Shirayuki: Hey, mother……
Mother: Give back! That child……give me back my real child!!

She started to sob, and he couldn’t do anything. He felt as though his very existence was being rejected. No, in reality he was a burden to his mother. Because of him, his mother couldn’t become a princess. As he started to cry, he apologised to her for having been born. Slowly, his world distorted.

Mother: Alice……

She whispered someone else’s name. He didn’t remember much after that. When he realised it, his mother was not at home. She probably went to work. Left behind, he kept to her promise as always. He read as usual, and dozed off to a sad dream. He couldn’t remember the details, but it was a dream of hurting someone because of a lie, and getting hurt too. When he woke up, his cheeks felt wet and he was in the forest. He didn’t know why he was here. He couldn’t tell the time either, but judging from the surroundings it was probably late. Uneasiness and anxiety overwhelmed him. His house is lit up. Has his mother returned? If so, he would have broken her promise. Would his mother be angry at him for breaking the promise, or worried? He asked if anyone was in, but strangely there was no answer even when he knocked. It was the only house standing in the area, there’s no mistake that it’s my home. He carefully opened the door, surprisingly it was not locked.

As he said that he’s home, he saw that it was dark inside, with only the moonlight shining in, just enough light to see inside. A sweet smell filled the place. This was the smell of his mother’s apple pie. His mother was on lying on the table, looking over with cold eyes. Her pale face, purple lips, lifeless eyes which reflected the darkness. Even though he didn’t know what happened, his legs couldn’t stop trembling and his palms grew damp.

Shirayuki: Mother……mother……wake up……you’ll catch a cold if you sleep here……
Mother: …………

He shook her body, but she didn’t wake up. He shook her again, and her limp body fell to the floor. He screamed, landing on his behind. Half of her face had turned purplish-red. Shirayuki cries out to her, and happened to touch her hand as cold as ice. And then he knew that his mother will never return to him again.

After that day, his mother gradually grew uglier. She still maintained a certain amount of her beauty at first, but after four days, a deep purple line spread throughout her body. But he could still tell that she was his mother. After a week, swellings like bubbles started to appear, and the colour of her body started to change. Her body swelled, and an unbearable stench was emitted. Maggots emerged in her body, and small flies circled around. Her beautiful figure was no longer there. His mother had turned into a monster.

Speaking of which, he no longer had any dreams. Even though sleeping was the only way he could escape from the pain, he was also unable to have his way. No, he is seeing a nightmare. This is all a nightmare. And he has a duty to keep seeing this nightmare. The cold air numbed his limbs. There was nothing he could do about his growling stomach. Even he surprised himself with his attached to his own life, despite the situation. Even though reality has not sunk into him, he had a sense that he was living.

Shirayuki: Why……am I living……

At that moment, he noticed someone looking at him from the mirror. He doesn’t deal well with looking at mirrors. When he first looked at one, it was as if he was looking at someone else other than himself. Complexion as white as snow. Lips and cheeks as red as an apple. And dazzling hair. He couldn’t help but think that isn’t him, but someone else. He doesn’t know why. Is the person reflected in the mirror the real him? In the mirror, is a young boy with complexion as white as snow, lips and cheeks as red as an apple, and dazzling hair. He asked the mirror who is reflected in the mirror. And the one in the mirror replied that it’s him. At that moment, the thin thread which had been holding him, seemed to have snapped.

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Shirayuki: Who……?
???: …………
Shirayuki: ……who are you? Why are you there?
???: …………
Shirayuki: ……could you be Alice?
Alice: …………

The boy in the mirror nodded. So Shirayuki asked who is he then. And then the mirror reflected another person. The one there is an ugly, fat boy covered in filth and with dandruff clinging to his head. Shirayuki screamed. He understood everything at that moment. Why his mother changed. Why he couldn’t see the one reflected in the mirror as himself. And his true figure which is reflected in the mirror.

Back to Yurika’s POV

Shirayuki recalls that the day he broke his mother’s promise and went outside, she looked at him coldly when he returned. She didn’t move an inch, and her body was as cold as ice. He knew right away, that she wasn’t coming back again. He killed her. If he had listened to her and didn’t go outside, he could have saved her. Yurika gazes at the figure of his mother – a black clump. There is liquid dripping from her feet, and infested with maggots. The grotesque sight shocks her and she backs away. The cheerful, innocent, kind lady who was always dreaming like a girl – there’s not even a shadow of her beautiful self there. Once she is conscious of this, Yurika’s breathing becomes ragged and the stench causes her to vomit. It’s a sight you could never forget. Your beloved turning ugly. He has always been seeing this nightmare.

Shirayuki: ……I made you cry. As expected, I cannot become a prince.

She sees him looking at his own hands through her teary vision. She wipes her mouth. He has been enduring unimaginable pain for so many years. If she wishes to even understand him, she needs to accept everything, and accept him.

Shirayuki: My beautiful mother who grew uglier by each day……that’s my punishment for not being able to save mother.

If she wishes to save him, she can’t cry anymore. She wipes her tears and regains her breath, as he recalls that he met Ryoushi after that. Yurika says that he’s her real brother, Arisu Ryoushi. Why did she forget such an important thing? She had forgotten herself whilst getting lost in this curious dimension. Shirayuki replies that it can’t be helped, since this is the dream world.

Which dreamed it?

She couldn’t bring herself to ask whose dream this is. Because she already knew the answer. Shirayuki adds that a dream is the recreation of your fragments of memory. The people, places, and situations are pretty much all part of your memories. It is a world made up from his memories. No matter how much his appearance changes, he is himself. He had always been looking at the mirror.

Shirayuki: Mirror mirror on the wall. Let me see what I want to see. Let me hear the words I want to hear. Frills and lace, and many ribbons. A large castle and pretty dresses. A mother who loves me, and a hunter who watches over me. And I who is a prince……I was comforted by my reflection in the mirror, over a long, long time. It’s fine if I don’t open my eyes again. It’s fine if I don’t look at reality again. It’s fine if it’s fake, or make-believe. The days spent with my loved ones is like a calm lake (mirror). There is no sadness or pain.
Yurika: But there is also no happiness or joy.
Shirayuki: …………

He looks up at her, with his eyes glistening in the dark. Yurika thought that the people were disappearing. But she was wrong. There were hardly any of them from the beginning. He smiles sadly, acknowledging that it’s because there were hardly any people in his memories. She thinks that it must be so painful, to be in eternal despair and loneliness. He remarks that it wasn’t that boring as he had books. So he could learn about the outside world even in his dream. He admits that he is starving for a new story though. He glances towards the table, where there is an apple pie and a book. The apple pie is half-eaten, and the book is thoroughly worn out. Both are things he likes, and both symbolise him. Yurika puts a hand to her mouth, recalling the foul apple pie she ate and spat out. Did he go through the same experience?

Shirayuki: It was then. That I met you. I heard about you (his sister) from Ryoushi. A princess with unique eyes. I had always wanted to meet you. Arisu Yurika. You are a very irregular existence in my dream. You are a reflection (creation of my memory), but you have your own will. I was’t too surprised to see you appear before me. I indirectly knew about you, so it isn’t weird for you to appear in my dream. I knew that you weren’t just a mirror image because you were a little different from the Arisu Yurika I knew. Your only brother is Arisu Ryoushi, and you didn’t run a cafe. In the first place you weren’t living in my town. If it was just that, it could just be a difference in setting……more than anything, you appearance is different from what I remembered. The first and last time I saw you was when Ryoushi showed me your photo, you were around 7 years old then. There is no 17 year old you in my memory.

Yurika shivers from the extreme cold. There is no light, nor any heater to warm the room. This is his world. She says that she always had a doubt. If this was his dream, then what is she. This is the dream world, yet she has her own will. Then what is her existence? But she finally figured it out. She is both an existence from his memory (a reflection), as well as a pawn in a game. Surely there is another her in the real world, who has always been calling out to him. And she wants to wake him up. That’s why she’s here.

Shirayuki: ……I don’t want to wake up. It’s fine to always remain this way.
Yurika: That’s a lie.
Shirayuki: It’s not a lie! I am more than satisfied with the way things are now……there is mother, and hunter here. I can always remain a prince if I stay here. I can always only see beautiful things.
Yurika: But that’s not the truth.
Shirayuki: !
Yurika: ……Shirayuki-kun. You said that the dream world is like a calm lake, but that is because your heart is frozen. You said that there is no sadness or pain, but there is no happiness or joy either. Is it really interesting to read the same book over and over again? Is it fun to only travel between your house and the lake? Is it fun to look in the mirror everyday and to answer yourself?
Shirayuki: ……no more! I don’t want to hear anymore than that……

He covers his ears with his hands, shaking his head. Yurika continues, saying that he knows deep down that he didn’t kill anyone. It is not his fault that his mother died. He shuts his eyes, firmly rejecting her claim. He killed her, he could have saved her if he didn’t break the promise.

Yurika: ……you blamed yourself more than anyone else. You could’ve blamed someone else, but you didn’t. Because you are a very kind person. But it’s time to put an end to this.

She takes a step forward, and Shirayuki takes a step back with a terrified expression. He begs her not to come closer. She ignores his plea, and touches his mother. The cheerful, innocent, kind lady who always dreamed like a girl. The lady Shirayuki loved the most. She ends up crumbling apart. Shirayuki desperately searches for him amidst the rubbish. Eventually, his legs give way. He glares at Yurika, asking why she did such a cruel thing. She replies that his mother was the cruel one, locking the young him up in such a place. He denies this, insisting that she only thought for his sake. Yurika doesn’t think so. He says that it’s because the outside world is dangerous. So she asks why he goes to the lake in the mirror world.

The clear lake is like a mirror which reflects everything symmetrically. If one stretches out one’s hand to pass through it, it almost feels as though one could leap into the opposite world. He had always been looking at that lake with a lonely gaze.

Yurika isn’t his mother, so she wouldn’t know what she was really thinking. And she can never ask her again. But he is different. He is alive, and only sleeping as if he were dead. She understands him, because she is his mirror. She looks at him with wide eyes, and his figure is reflected in her eyes.

Yurika: You really wanted to go to the outside world right?
Shirayuki: …………
Yurika: You are not mad. You have always been sane. You always wished to be noticed right? Wished to be saved right? You were always lonely.
Shirayuki: Stop it!!
Yurika: You always wanted to wake up from this sleep.
Shirayuki: You’re wrong……I……this was punishment……for not becoming a prince……for knowing the truth……yet……yet, everything changed after you appeared! Mother, and hunter, everything didn’t go the way I wanted! Why are you showing me the truth! Why do you call me a prince!

Mirror mirror on the wall. Answer my question.

Yurika: The long years of loneliness has frozen your heart. And your frozen heart became a mirror, which showed you what you wanted to see, and the words you wanted to hear. But that also changed after I appeared in this world.

The magic mirror was distorted, and she smashed it. But there is still a mirror here. Yurika remarks that he should already know, why she appeared in an appearance he doesn’t know. Shirayuki warns her not to come any closer, he doesn’t want her to see this side of him. He hides his face with his hands, desperately trying to escape her gaze.

Yurika: ……why?
Shirayuki: Because the real me isn’t beautiful at all……! ……I’m filthy right? I haven’t bathed, and didn’t clean up at all……I’m covered in fat and filth, with dandruff clinging to my head. And……this stench which clings to me……I can’t remove it……no matter how I wash and wash my body, it clings to me and can’t be removed……!

It’s just as he said, there is a foul stench. It’s a given since he has always been in this decaying space. Shirayuki had always been thinking about why his mother never let him out. He realised it when he looked into the mirror. He isn’t the appearance his mother desired for, so she never let him out. He isn’t a prince. It’s his heart crying out, that he wished to be a prince.

Yurika: I desire you. I cannot become your mother (queen). But I can become a lover (princess). You are my prince.
Shirayuki: Why……? Why do you siblings try to approach me so……?
Yurika: Because I like you. I like you so I want to be by your side.
Shirayuki: I like you so I want to get away from you……I like you, so I don’t want you to see such an ugly side of me!

Wishing for him to accept, she stretches out her hand to him. He shouts at her not to touch him. For he’s filthy, and will dirty her too. He slaps her hand away, looking terrified. She isn’t deterred, and reaches out to him again, telling him to look at her. She grabs him and brings her face up-close to his, telling him to look in her eyes.

Yurika: When you look at my eyes, what do you think?
Shirayuki: ……they’re pretty……extremely so……
Yurika: Then what about your figure reflected in my eyes?
Shirayuki: That is…………

His face scrunches up in pain, but he remains captured by her gaze. Yurika was very happy when he said her eyes are pretty, and that he likes them. So she wants him to look at his figure reflected in her eyes, and to love her who acknowledges him.

Shirayuki: You who acknowledges me……? That……in other words, to love myself?
Yurika: Yes. In order to love someone, you first need to love yourself. Say, chant the magic words. I’m not just a mirror. I’m your magic mirror. I will answer any of your questions.
Shirayuki: …………mirror mirror……on the wall. Who do you love the most in this world?
Yurika: My prince, you are the most fair.

(Note: Yurika says the last line in English. The Japanese line translate to “My prince, that is you”.) She kisses him, and sees his shocked expression when their lips are parted.

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Shirayuki: Why………………I said so right? If you are fine with dying for my sake.
Yurika: Yes.
Shirayuki: No matter how much of an irregular existence you are, this world is my dream. Your existence is but a mere illusion……if I wake up, your existence will disappear. Are you fine with your existence disappearing?
Yurika: Yes.
Shirayuki: Why……
Yurika: Because I love you. I love you, so I want to save you. I don’t mind sacrificing myself for your sake. I don’t mind it if the person I love can have a happy end.
Shirayuki: ……you’re strange.
Yurika: I’m often told that. Is it because I’m a character in a dream?

She adds that his mother told her to be his friend, and to save him when he’s in trouble. That is also a reason. He remarks that it’s only in the dream. Yurika admits this, but asks if he will believe in her words. He does his best to smile, and acknowledges this.

Yurika: You said that you always wanted to meet me.
Shirayuki: Yes……
Yurika: Did Shirayuki-kun wish to see me all this time?
Shirayuki: ……I did.
Yurika: Did you love me?
Shirayuki: I don’t know…………but I’d always admired you. Because your appearance is just like a princess out of a storybook.
Yurika: I see. Me too……I had always heard about you from brother. The story of the prince who ate a poison apple and fell asleep. I’d always wanted to save you.

At that moment, a red spark spreads throughout the room. It’s a fire burning everything in its path. The world, the dream is falling apart. Yurika remarks that the long, long dream will be ending soon. In order to reassure him, she gently reminds him that she will still love him even after waking up from the dream. Even if he wakes up and the mirror image of her is gone – the real her will be there. When he protests, she hushes him by placing her finger on his lips.

Yurika: Even if this world is a dream, even if I disappear, I will wake you up. Say, can you hear my voice? Are my words reaching you?
Shirayuki: ……yes they are. After you appeared, the world has gradually changed. Your words are mysterious. Other people’s words don’t resound in me, but you are different. Your words gradually melt the lake frozen by the cold, creating waves in my heart.
Yurika: Prince. I have come to wake you up.

She can see her figure clearly reflected in his beautiful purple eyes. As if being drawn in, she brings her face to his and kisses him once more.

Episode of Shirayuki (aka Shirayuki’s POV)

A child sat all alone, gazing at the lake. Why the lake? The choice of place isn’t important. If he could go anywhere, even the opposite end of the earth would be fine. But he just liked the lake. On a night when the moon is out, the reflection of the surrounding mountains in the water is very whimsical. Even though it’s a tourist spot, hardly anyone comes here at night. The moon was beautiful that night. He just sat there listening to the waves. It’s a big mistake to think that a lake has no waves. Like a sea, the waves beating the shore of the lake. It is like the wind is blowing the the waves further away and spreading it wider. Still, a lake is a lake. It is unlike the sea which connects to the world, and you are unable to go to a far away country. But even if it does, he’s sure that he won’t be able to go to a far away country. Because……

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Suddenly, a man grabbed him by the shoulder. It is actually Ryoushi, who was probably 20 years old then and a student. He dragged Shirayuki from the pier back to the banks of the lake. He was appalled that a brat is out this late, asking if he has any friends or family. Judging from his responses, Ryoushi concludes that he left home. When Shirayuki answered rudely, he smacked his head. Shirayuki remarked that he isn’t a brat, and introduced himself as Shirayuki. He insisted for Ryoushi’s name, who eventually introduced himself as Arisu Ryoushi. Shirayuki found it a weird name – both “Arisu” and “Ryoushi” are names often found in fairy tales. Ryoushi also pointed out his name and asked if he isn’t a girl, which made Shirayuki kick him in response. More than his name being made fun, he couldn’t forgive the doubt that he was a girl. Shirayuki said in a low voice that he isn’t a girl, and Ryoushi apologised in return.

Shirayuki: Ryoushi is……
Ryoushi: Dropping the formalities already.
Shirayuki: I don’t want to call you “Arisu”.
Ryoushi: I don’t want to be called that either.
Shirayuki: Then Ryoushi is fine right?
Ryoushi: …………
Shirayuki: Uncle?
Ryoushi: Ryoushi is fine.

Ryoushi had thought that he was committing suicide. In any case, it isn’t normal for a brat to be out here all alone at this time. Shirayuki, in turn, wondered why Ryoushi was here then. Judging from his appearance, could he be a delinquent? Ash grey hair and icy blue eyes. It suited him, but he also will stand out in the countryside. As his appearance is very different from others. Ryoushi explained that this is his natural hair colour. Shirayuki can tell from his tone that he doesn’t have good memories of it. Others kept telling him to dye his hair. But he dyed it black once, and it didn’t suit him at all. Shirayuki burst out laughing as he imagined it. Once he recovered, he asked Ryoushi to come again tomorrow.

The next night, Ryoushi waited at the lake till Shirayuki came. The former did not expect for the child to really come. The two of them sat next to each other in silence, till the older man asked if it’s fun to watch the lake when there is nothing. The younger one replied that it isn’t. Ryoushi took out a cigarette, something which Shirayuki had never saw or heard before. Ryoushi found this strange, and explained that one smokes on it. Shirayuki choked on the smoke when the cigarette is lit, and asked if it’s delicious. Ryoushi replied that it’s awful, which Shirayuki found weird. Ryoushi acknowledged this, adding that it’s poison for the body. But there are many who like this. He warned Shirayuki not to imitate. Shirayuki observed that it seemed like a duty for him to smoke.

Ryoushi took out a colourful wrapped sweet, and told him to eat this instead. Shirayuki threw it since he doesn’t need it, and Ryoushi hit his head. The latter snubbed out the cigarette and ate the sweet instead, commenting that it’s delicious. Shirayuki asked if it isn’t dirty, and the older man answered that it’s fine since it didn’t touch the floor directly. Seeing him eat it made Shirayuki curious, so Ryoushi passed him another piece. But the younger boy didn’t eat it, and raised it to the moon. The red sweet shined under the moonlight through the transparent wrapping – it looked like an apple.

After that, Ryoushi kept coming to the lake and they talked a lot. He moved to the countryside to further his studies. He’s from a family of doctors, so he’s studying to become one too. But he doesn’t think he is suited since he isn’t particularly smart, skillful with his hands – and he cannot stand blood. Especially with its metallic smell and gross colour. Shirayuki mulled over this, thinking that they really are similar. He doesn’t like the colour of red either. Ryoushi grinned, for it’s rare for Shirayuki to talk about himself. Annoyed, Shirayuki hit him. It’s true though, and Ryoushi never approached the subject unnecessarily. Shirayuki couldn’t tell his motive, but he could feel his sincerity. Ryoushi lit a cigarette, and stared into empty space. Having observed him, Shirayuki knew that this is when he’s pondering over something.

Shirayuki: ……say, why do you smoke when you know that it’s poisonous? Do you wish to die?
Ryoushi: ……I don’t smoke because I wish to die.
Shirayuki: …………
Ryoushi: I just……
Shirayuki: Just?
Ryoushi: I think that I could get closer by doing this, even just a bit.
Shirayuki: Hmm……

Shirayuki didn’t pursue the matter. He was sure that Ryoushi has his own issues too. He can talk when he wants to, and not talk when he doesn’t want to. Ryoushi took out a book which he had found while clearing his room, asking if Shirayuki needs it. For some reason, the latter feels a deep connection with books.

Ryoushi: Do you hate books?
Shirayuki: ……thank you.

It’s the first time he said that, and Ryoushi smiled while ruffling his hair. His hand was warm, and Shirayuki didn’t dislike it. Soon after, they parted ways and Shirayuki returned home. The house was dark, and the room was chilly in winter for there was no heater. He covered his exhausted mother with a blanket, telling her not to catch a cold. There was an apple pie on the table. His mother hardly made it for him now since she works outside. After eating, he shifted the red coat which dropped to the window. The refraction off the accumulated snow made the surroundings seem bright. Shirayuki started to read the book. Would his mother be sad or happy to see this? He wouldn’t know since she was asleep. The book was different from the fairytales his mother read to him before he slept – it was a characteristic story with complicated relationships and sudden developments.

The next night, Ryoushi observed that he’s really frail and asked if he eats properly. Shirayuki insisted that he does. The older man took out a plastic bag filled with bread, rice balls and snacks. He advised the younger boy to eat more if he wants to get bigger. When Shirayuki remained silent, he unwrapped a piece of bread to eat so as to reassure him. Shirayuki was curious about the taste, but insists that he doesn’t need it, that he isn’t hungry. But it was a lie. He had always been hungry, but he didn’t want to accept charity from Ryoushi.

Shirayuki: ……doesn’t Ryoushi cook your own food?
Ryoushi: I don’t.
Shirayuki: Do you have someone who cooks for you?
Ryoushi: I live alone.
Shirayuki: Hmm……
Ryoushi: What about you?
Shirayuki: ……mother always makes apple pie for me.
Ryoushi: Apple pie?
Shirayuki: Yes……
Ryoushi: ……hmm.

When they parted ways, Ryoushi made him take the bag of food back. Shirayuki returned home and placed the plastic bag on the table. Did Ryoushi see him as a stray cat? But Shirayuki knew that he meant well, so he felt like eating. The sandwich looked delicious, so Shirayuki unwrapped it and took a bite. But his body couldn’t accept it and he threw it up. Since when has he been unable to eat anything, no matter how hungry he was. He wants to eat. But it doesn’t mean anything if his stomach cannot accept it. That was why he replied that he didn’t need it then. His reflection in the mirror was a scrawny boy.

One night, Shirayuki learnt from Ryoushi about his younger sister. He had heard about Ryoushi’s family before, but never about his sister. So something did feel off. In any case, Ryoushi remarked that his sister doesn’t resemble him. But certain people may find her cute. His way of words caused Shirayuki to ask if she is different from others. Ryoushi acknowledged this, admitting that she may resemble him in that aspect. Her eyes are two colours, a gradiation of blue and red. Both he and his sister’s features are natural. There’s nothing wrong with their vision, and they are no different from other people besides the eye colour. Ryoushi admitted that the two of them stand out wherever they go.

Shirayuki: How old is your sister?
Ryoushi: Around your age. And her hair is long…………
Shirayuki: …………what?
Ryoushi: Speaking of which, she’s similar to you.
Shirayuki: To me?
Ryoushi: There’s your appearance, but also somehow……
Shirayuki: …………
Ryoushi: Oi hey! That’s dangerous!

Ryoushi pulled him by the collar, but Shirayuki explained that he was merely checking his reflection in the lake. His reflection looked similar to Ryoushi. Yes, more so than his mother.

After that, Shirayuki asked more about Ryoushi’s sister each night. What she liked and disliked. What books she liked, when she was sad. It was as if he could visualise her more, even though she was not here. But that soon came to a stop, for Ryoushi didn’t know her well. After all, when she was 7 years old she left for overseas with her mother and Ryoushi moved here. So they haven’t met in years. As for why Ryoushi came here, it was because they had a villa here which they visit every year. It appeared that their family was rich. Shirayuki was bored of this countryside, but for the first time he’s grateful that it’s a tourist spot. If not, he wouldn’t have met Ryoushi or gotten to know about his sister.

Ryoushi showed him a photo of her that night. Shirayuki compared him to his photo, commenting that he looked a bit younger in the photo – but his sulky look has not changed. Ryoushi hit him in response. It’s his bad habit to always strike once displeased. Well, the same could be said for Shirayuki though. He looked at the photo once more. She was probably 7 years old. Bright and fluffy brown hair with ribbons tied on either side, and wearing a white dress. It was his first time seeing her, but for some reason she felt nostalgic. Her eyes were truly fascinating and different from anyone else – himself, Ryoushi, and of course his mother. It was her own unique sparkle. Rather than red, it was more of a pink colour. He genuinely found her eyes pretty, like shiny and dazzling jewels. The girl in the photo seemed to appear sad. If his mother saw her, she would surely hug her and see her like a princess.

Shirayuki asked why Ryoushi even bothers with him. He first thought that he must be rather free to bother with him, but now he figured that there must be an important reason. Ryoushi averted his gaze and gave a vague answer. Shirayuki could easily tell that he was lying.

Ryoushi: ……you too, why do you want to know about my sister so much?
Shirayuki: ………………because she’s Arisu (your sister).
Ryoushi: Hah?
Shirayuki: There’s that but the truth is a little different. The reason why I want to know about her, is because she is the princess I have never met.
Ryoushi: ……hah?
Shirayuki: …………
Ryoushi: ……what’s with that appalled face. How can I know with such an abstract description.
Shirayuki: Then it’s fine for you not to know for life.

The younger boy turned his back to him, finding the older man rather dense. Were his words really that hard to understand? The older man sighed.

Ryoushi: ……I don’t know if she is a princess or not, but she is a lot more outstanding than me. She can do anything. My parents trust her, and spoil her.
Shirayuki: …………more so than Ryoushi?
Ryoushi: …………
Shirayuki: ……Ryoushi came to this countryside to learn to be a hunter, instead of a city, because you wanted to be away from your sister?
Ryoushi: …………
Shirayuki: I see……Ryoushi doesn’t actually want to become a hunter.
Ryoushi: I’m still an apprentice……no, I’m not even an apprentice yet.
Shirayuki: In other words, she is much more outstanding, but she doesn’t need to inherit the family trade because she’s a girl. So you’re irritated by your sister. But in this age, it isn’t rare to have female hunters right? And Ryoushi’s mother is working as a hunter right?
Ryoushi: Well yes…………

But Shirayuki could understand his feelings a bit – it doesn’t feel nice to be compared to someone else. Even though Ryoushi is himself. Ryoushi smiled, thanking him. Out of the blue, Shirayuki offered to give him a hint if he is lost, to play a game. If Ryoushi wins, Shirayuki would tell his secret. After mulling over it, Ryoushi made him promise not to wander out at night alone if he won. And So Shirayuki gave him the riddle: It is a very unreasonable thing. Anyone can have it. But it disappears once you obtain it. Anyone can see it. But once you open your eyes, it vanishes without a trace. Ryoushi’s face stiffened as he learnt that it’s a riddle, and Shirayuki told him to work hard.

After that, Ryoushi seriously went back to check the purpose of a riddle. He got that he’s supposed to guess something, but was stuck. So Shirayuki gave him the hint that it has different meanings but also a same meaning. The older man frowned, unable to understand. The younger boy bluntly called him stupid, causing Ryoushi to hit his head. Shirayuki gave another hint, telling him to recall the books he read as a child. Once more, Ryoushi frowned since he didn’t get it at all. As Shirayuki called him stupid again, he earned himself another hit. The next day, Ryoushi failed to answer correctly too. Shirayuki advised him to think more flexibly. The boring days continued as such. Though it was more lively compared to the days when Shirayuki gazed at the lake all alone.

Another day, Shirayuki asked about Ryoushi’s sister again. The latter replied that they hardly conversed since their ages are rather far apart. Shirayuki pointed out that since his sister likes books though, surely she would’ve been able to answer the riddle immediately. The older man furrowed his eyebrows at being compared to his sister. Shirayuki understood that pain, adding that they’re similar. They both hate the colour red and have a complex towards “Arisu”. Ryoushi answered that he didn’t get it, but Shirayuki knew that he was lying.

But all fun times come to an end. One day, Ryoushi finally gave the correct answer – dream. He heaved a loud sigh of relief, and Shirayuki remarked that he thought he would never get it. The older man broke into a smile, saying that it was a lie since he gave him many hints. A promise is a promise. Though Ryoushi didn’t know what he’s thinking, but now Shirayuki can’t wander out at night anymore.

Shirayuki: ………………Ryoushi why do you think this kid is wandering around at night?
Ryoushi: Another riddle? That’s enough……
Shirayuki: …………
Ryoushi: ……because you don’t want to be at home.
Shirayuki: That’s right. The same reason as Ryoushi.

He shouldn’t ask for help. He should’ve separated himself from Ryoushi if he cherished him. Ryoushi asked if his parents did something, and Shirayuki firmly denied this. It was he who broke his mother’s promise, by coming outside. It can’t be helped if his mother hates him since he’s a bad kid. Ryoushi asked if his mother was at home, and offered his hand to Shirayuki. He didn’t want to stick his head into other people’s business, but he will now since he has come this far. It may be bad to break a promise, but he doesn’t think of Shirayuki as a bad kid.

Shirayuki: ………………what if I’m really at fault?
Ryoushi: I will apologise together with you then.
Shirayuki: …………He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.
Ryoushi: Hah? Why all of a sudden……
Shirayuki: You don’t know? It is a quote from a book which Ryoushi gave me.
Ryoushi: Ah–……speaking of which there seemed to be a quote like that. So what about it?
Shirayuki: Ryoushi is too kind.

He shouldn’t drag Ryoushi in any further. The caring and meddlesome man would surely regret learning the truth. But Shirayuki told Ryoushi to follow him – he would share his secret as a reward for getting the correct answer. Ryoushi was the first person ever to visit. The older man gagged at the moment he stepped in. It was only a given, since Shirayuki had grown accustomed to it – but not him. He didn’t want anyone else to see the state of this house, but a promise is a promise. Shirayuki called out to his mother, adding that he brought a friend back. Ryoushi stood at the entrance with a pale face, his legs were trembling. Speaking of which, he couldn’t handle grotesque stuff, so this sight must be terrifying for him.

In a trembling voice, Ryoushi asked if he was sane. Shirayuki replied that it’s an odd question to ask. He probably wasn’t sane from the start. Ever since he had realised the truth, when he knew that his existence was a mistake. Shirayuki called out to his sleeping mother, and of course there was no response. Ryoushi’s face twisted in disbelief, as if he had saw a monster.

Shirayuki: Mother. He is Arisu Ryoushi. He has the same name as your favourite fairytale heroine. Ryoushi has a younger sister. Surely mother will be delighted if you see her. Because she looks like a princess even to me……
Ryoushi: Wait a minute!! ……listen well. That may have been your mother, but not anymore……
Shirayuki: No?
Ryoushi: No matter how much you talk to her, there’s no response……that isn’t your mother, but just a corpse……!
Shirayuki: …………”death”……is it. Say, Ryoushi. What is “death”. It is true that my beautiful mother may not be here anymore. But in my memory the beautiful and kind mother is still here……do you still think that mother is dead?
Ryoushi: Of course! No matter how much you remember, people are not alive without a body!
Shirayuki: …………fu.

He smirked at those words. It was very much like Ryoushi. Shirayuki remarked that if one is not alive without a body, he may be also dead. Ryoushi was taken aback, and Shirayuki pointed out the apple pie baked by his mother. He asked if he wanted to try it. His mother’s specialty, but now…… Ryoushi tried to stop him, but Shirayuki took a bite of it. He can’t get used to the taste no matter how many times he ate it. He resisted the urge to throw up, and swallowed it. But soon he vomited it and his eyes teared up. There was no way he could eat this. Because it had decayed just like his mother. Ryoushi grabbed him by the arm, but Shirayuki shook his head.

Shirayuki: ……it’s no good. Ryoushi knows it too right? I’ve long gone mad.
Ryoushi: That……
Shirayuki: Who killed Mother? ……me. I killed mother.

The day he broke his mother’s promise and went out, she looked at him with cold, emotionless eyes when he returned. She wouldn’t move no matter what, and her body was cold as ice. He couldn’t believe it. He didn’t want to believe it. But the truth was always cruel. He was so powerless. In the end, he wasn’t a princess and not even a prince. He asked if Ryoushi still wanted to save him. The latter replied that he obviously would. No matter the situation, he doesn’t think Shirayuki is bad. Sure, he may have a sharp tongue, blunt attitude, be fickle, isn’t cute at all and he himself hates brats – but the more he met Shirayuki, the more fun those times became. Shirayuki was able to think for others – be it Ryoushi or his sister. Their ages may be far apart, but Ryoushi thought of him as a friend – a younger brother. At the very least, he could listen to what Shirayuki has to say.

Shirayuki thanked him, he thought of Ryoushi as a friend too. The one and only friend to first recognise him as Shirayuki. He remarked that he thinks Ryoushi is actually suited to his job. He may be insensitive, impudent, meddlesome, and thick-headed……but he has a strong will, and knows people’s weaknesses. Moreover his job isn’t just looking at blood. But unfortunately, Shirayuki insisted that he will die now. He released himself from Ryoushi’s grasp, and took a slice of apple pie.

Shirayuki: ……do you know what this is? A poisonous apple. It’s a famous fairy tale right? The story of a princess like white snow. Even Ryoushi should know it right?

One of the princesses his mother loved. A princess with the same name as him. Well he is a boy, so he isn’t a princess. In the fairy tale, the princess took a bite of the apple given by the queen disguised as an old woman. She then fainted and never woke up. Poor princess. The queen (mother) rejected her existence.

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Shirayuki: If I eat this, “Shirayuki” will be no more.
Ryoushi: Be no more……

He didn’t seemed to understand what Shirayuki meant, and took a step closer. Shirayuki raised his voice, warning him not to come closer.

Shirayuki: ……this is fine. If I’m here, someone else besides me will become miserable. It will be good if I bear this painful feeling (memory), and someone else will become happier……Ryoushi. Thank you for everything. It was just a short while, but it was fun. Thanks to Ryoushi, my……I made another fun memory which only I know. Cigarettes……be mindful of it. Ryoushi isn’t similar to his parents, so you smoke the cigarettes which you don’t even like, desperately imitating them right? You wished to be recognised as their real child no matter who you are. I understand that feeling. Because I’m the same……

He wished to be recognised as “himself” too. Not as a princess, nor a prince. But as his own existence, “Shirayuki”.

Shirayuki: Your sister……I’d wanted to meet Arisu Yurika once.

The princess he had never met. The princess with beautiful eyes. He was attracted to her each time he heard about her from Ryoushi. The real princess (Arisu) his mother had desired for. Shirayuki said goodbye, and ate the apple pie. The apple’s poison immediately robbed him of his consciousness. Ryoushi cried out his name, “his name” which no one, not even his mother, had called him before. As his vision faded, Ryoushi’s voice grew more distant. And soon, the darkness swallowed up his consciousness.

Back to Yurika’s POV

Shirayuki slowly wakes up, and Ryoushi greets him. The former leaps up, asking where Yurika is. He dashes downstairs, where she greets him and confirms that she is the real Yurika.

Shirayuki: Then……the Arisu Yurika I met in my dream is no longer……………………
Yurika: ……why are you crying?
Shirayuki: ……because she disappeared once I woke up from my dream. She may not have been the real one……only half of her may have been the real one……but the Arisu Yurika I talked to was the one in my dream……
Yurika: ……you fell in love with the Arisu Yurika you met in your dream.
Shirayuki: ……that’s right.

Yurika asks him why she never appeared in his story till recently, if he had always wanted to see her. He could’ve easily done so, by looking into the mirror and wishing for what he wishes to see. Shirayuki replies that he was probably afraid. She had always been the princess he had admired. He only knew her based on what he had heard about her, and never saw or talked to her before. It’s the same as a celebrity, whom you only know through the camera lenses. You know that you are in the same world, but your lives will never cross. She is not a friend, and of course not even a lover. He didn’t want to beautify her. It is surely easy to imagine her personality and how she would act. But he would end up falling in love with her beautified self. And he may end up being disillusioned if he meets her in reality.

Shirayuki: ……haha, how strange. Even though I didn’t plan on waking up again……perhaps I……unconsciously thought that I would meet you one day.
Yurika: But you met her didn’t you. A Arisu Yurika who wasn’t beautified.
Shirayuki: In my dream…………I know. You kept talking from outside. That’s why I met Arisu Yurika in my dream.

When asked for his impressions, Shirayuki answers that she looked gentle, but is actually a tomboy, talks a lot, is noisy, and a very charming girl. The Yurika in front of him isn’t different, but something essential is – memories. And those memories made him fall for her. Though it’s a bit odd to term what happened in a dream as memories.

Shirayuki: ……why are you smiling?
Yurika: Because you said that you love me. Please be rest assured. I’m the Arisu Yurika who you know.
Shirayuki: Eh…………w-what do you mean……?
Ryoushi: The dream is still ongoing. Weren’t you good at riddles?
Shirayuki: Ryoushi……! ………………I’m good, but my head is still dazed.
Yurika: Because you just woke up.
Shirayuki: Just woke up……as expected this isn’t reality……if the dream is ongoing, then what did I wake up from.
Ryoushi: From a nightmare.
Shirayuki: Nightmare……?
Ryoushi: Shirayuki. You have always been seeing a nightmare.
Shirayuki: …………
Ryoushi: 6 years ago, you peered into the magic mirror. And you learnt the truth. Why your mother hated you. Why you saw a strange dream……it was something compelling enough to waver your own identity. You have a bad mouth but are a good person. You understand other people, and sometimes sacrifice yourself for others. Having known the truth, you chose to carry these painful memories and feelings and went to sleep.
Shirayuki: …………
Ryoushi: ……I thought it was fine if you wanted that.

He thought it was also a correct decision since he could seal all those awful things. But he was aware that nothing would be solved. His heart’s wounds wouldn’t be healed by just sleeping. It was also why he couldn’t eat in his dream. While carrying his trauma, his dream turned into a nightmare. There was only one way to save his heart. To meet his destined princess whom he had always wished to meet. But normally that couldn’t come true, because he was asleep.

Shirayuki: ……but she made the impossible possible. I know it now without you telling me. You used the mirror. And my memory of Arisu Yurika.
Ryoushi: Aah, that’s right. The mirror caused you misfortune, but also saved you.
Shirayuki: …………why I’m still dreaming even though Yurika saved me……I sort of know why. Surely it’s because the real me is still sleeping. Before I knew it, I was dreaming in my dream. That’s why I couldn’t read any new stories (perceptions). In any case, I understand the logic……but if the dream is still ongoing, the Ryoushi and you who are here are not real. Then am I still looking at the mirror?

Yurika brings Shirayuki outside, where there are many people. He’s surprised, and she explains that he may not remember it but he actually has many memories. That the outside world was bathed in gentle light, that there were many people in the outside world. It’s because he’s an avid reader. She asks how does it feel outside, and he replies that it feels good. Yurika is sure that it will be the same in the real world too.

Shirayuki: ……but if that happens you will disappear for real this time.
Yurika: That may be the case. And when you wake up from your dream, you will see the real me. If that happens, will you come to hate me?
Shirayuki: That’s impossible! I like you……because I’ve always admired you.
Yurika: But that is different from romance.
Shirayuki: Yes……I fell for you after meeting you in my dream.
Yurika: Say, do you remember? What I said. Love and romance are different. Love is caring.
Shirayuki: ……I remember. No matter the flaws or ugliness, it can embrace everything……right?
Yurika: Yes.
Shirayuki: Even if you wake up from your dream, you will stay by my side and love me.
Yurika: I will still love you even if I wake up from my dream.
Shirayuki: ……that’s why, you’re telling me to also love you?
Yurika: If you can.
Shirayuki: ………………it’s easy to say it. But in reality it’s a very difficult thing.
Yurika: That’s right. So I won’t force you.
Shirayuki: ………………I understand. Even if I wake up from my dream, I will stay by your side and love you. Because I love you.
Yurika: Yes!
Shirayuki: …………

He feels hungry, so she suggests going back inside for breakfast. Eating together with everyone will surely make the food more delicious. He agrees, adding that he had always wanted to eat her food. They return inside, and Wizard stands from a distance. He remarks that the apple is also known as the forbidden fruit. The forbidden fruit is also a fruit of the tree of knowledge. If you eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, apparently you can gain the equivalent of gods’ knowledge of good and evil. It is not always a good thing to know everything. Due to eating the forbidden fruit, men was driven out of eden. And so men were no longer immortal, and made to struggle and sweat for their existence.

Putting that aside, Wizard concludes that the prince who had seen a nightmare because of a poisonous apple, was saved by the princess’ kiss. He congratulates the heroine, wishing for her to always be happy.

Once upon a time, there was a mysterious boy. He had snow white complexion, and a delicate body. His lips were as red as an apple. The beautiful boy seemed like a prince out of a storybook, and stood out wherever he went. But he did not realise it at all. Because he had never gone outside before. The boy lived with his mother in a small house in the forest. The boy’s mother had snow white complexion, and rose red cheeks. She was a beautiful woman with hair as black as ebony. His mother loved flowers, stories and sparkling beautiful things, and was like a girl always dreaming. The boy loved his mother.

His mother would always tell the boy this: “Listen well. When mother is not around, you have to properly watch the house. If anyone comes to this house, you should never let them in.” The boy kept his mother’s promise, and always read picture books at home. Frills, lace and many ribbons. A large castle and pretty dresses. It was not a sparkling world like in picture books, but the boy was happy to live together with his beloved mother.

One day, the boy was brought by his mother to the outside world for the first time. The boy was dazzled by everything he saw, and the other people treated him specially. The boy wondered why he was special. But when he looked into the mirror he realised that his features were different from his mother’s. After that, his surroundings gradually changed. The clean house slowly accumulated rubbish, and his beautiful mother grew more haggard with each passing day. As her looks grew uglier, the mother also grew more hateful towards the boy.

“Listen well? You’re different from the other children, you’re a very good child. So you can’t play outside. Everyone around you is a wolf. There’s no telling what bad things wolves will do, so ignore them even if they approach you. When mother is not around, you have to properly watch the house. If anyone comes to this house, you should never let them in.”

His mother also almost never let him out anymore. The boy continued to keep his mother’s promise, and never stepped outside the house. But when his mother returned, she scolded him. The boy didn’t understand why she was angry at him, or why his kind mother changed. And so the boy started to dream about the outside world. The boy could play freely in the dream world. Some time later, one day the boy woke up and went outside. Not knowing what had happened, the boy returned home feeling uneasy. Inside the house was his mother’s ugly corpse.

The young boy had no one else to rely on and couldn’t do anything, so he lived together with his mother’s corpse. There was his favourite apple pie on the table, but he threw up the moment he even took a bite. He was hungry, yet he couldn’t eat anything. He grew afraid of eating. He realised that there was someone in the mirror, and hesitantly turned towards it. There was an ugly boy covered in filth. The boy asked the mirror: “Mirror mirror……on the wall. Who is that in the mirror?” And the boy in the mirror answered: “……it’s me.” The boy learnt the truth in that single moment. Why his mother never let him out of the “house”. Why his mother rejected him each time she saw him. It was because he wasn’t her real child.

Unable to endure this, the boy left the house. The boy washed off the filth at the lake, and soon a young man appeared. When the young man asked, the boy replied that he was “Shirayuki”. The young man named Ryoushi treated “Shirayuki” well. Ryoushi was born with unique features, so Shirayuki secretly felt a connection to him. According to Ryoushi, his younger sister was also born with unique features. When Ryoushi showed his sister’s photo to Shirayuki, he thought that “she was a cute child just like a princess out of a picture book”. After a while, Shirayuki told Ryoushi everything and said goodbye. Shirayuki went deep into the mirror world, not planning to come back ever again. And Shirayuki took a bite of the apple pie his mother last made for him, collapsed and never opened his eyes again.

Some years later, Shirayuki was living quietly in the dream where everything was upside-down, as a prince in the mirror world. In his dream with a mother who loves him, and Ryoushi who saves him. Sometimes, he would visit the lake and gaze at the upside-down world. But he didn’t plan on ever going to the outside world again. Because the mirror world reflects everything he wishes to see. Even if everything is make-believe, he felt happier to live in a world which reflects whatever he desires. And if he goes to the outside world, Shirayuki knew that he would hurt someone else other than himself.

But when returning from the lake as per usual, he bumped into the princess who was seeing this dream. While he felt something off about her older appearance, as he interacted with her, both Shirayuki and the princess started to notice the truth. Actually, the princess seeing this dream had heard about the truth from Ryoushi, and came inside the dream to save Shirayuki. Eventually the princess saw through the fact that everyone in this world was a reflection of Shirayuki himself, and his mirror shattered. And so the grand mansion changed into a small house filled with rubbish, and the beautiful prince returned to an ugly boy covered in filth. Even so, the princess didn’t mind it one bit and kissed him to wake him up.

When Shirayuki opened his eyes, for some reason he was still the same prince he was in his dreams. The prince hurriedly searched for the princess, and found her happily preparing breakfast. Ryoushi came down too, and explained everything. Knowing that this was still a dream, Shirayuki was uneasy about the fact that he was still looking in the mirror. So the princess brought the prince to the outside world and told him this: “Even if I wake up from the dream, I will still love you”. And so the princess’ kiss changed a nightmare into a sweet dream, and saved the prince.

(After the credits)

Yurika serves Shirayuki her homemade hot fruit punch. He is fine with this over other dishes. While he likes apple pie, it’s only because his mother made it for him. Yurika made this for him, so he’s certain that this hot fruit punch will be his favourite now. It’s made by the person he loves, so he will say it’s delicious even if it’s not. She would rather have him be honest instead, if not she can’t improve. He agrees, and asks her to feed him. Shirayuki tells her not to be so mindful, after all Ryoushi isn’t here. Despite how he looks, he reads the situation and is probably smoking somewhere else now. Moreover, he doesn’t mind being seen since they are lovers. His direct words causes Yurika to feel flustered, but she feeds him anyway.

He comments that it’s sweet but refreshing, and she points out that it’s because it’s a fruit punch. She’s curious as to whether it suits his taste, so he asks her to try it too. Shirayuki catches her by surprise, as he kisses her. He remarks that it’s delicious, and observes that she’s blushing furiously. Stuttering, Yurika asks if he likes kissing. He answers that he does – be it kissing or being kissed. Shirayuki kisses her once more, commenting that it’s delicious. He notes that she’s fine with kissing, but seems to be less adept at being kissed. She protests as he took her by surprise, but he points out that she did the same too.

He considers working at her cafe. Since he’s free, he wants to try doing what he likes. He likes reading books, but that wouldn’t be anything different from before. He doesn’t have any other interest, but hearing her talk happily about her brothers made him think that it wouldn’t be too bad. However, he can’t do anything – be it cooking, cleaning, washing or sewing. Because he’s a prince. But he will try. He may be unskillful and unable to do anything, and may fail many times. But he will work hard and challenge each time till he can do it. It won’t look good for him to always rely on her. He’s her prince, so he wants to look cool in front of her.  ……and they lived happily ever after.

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Overall thoughts

That was long……like it has a lot more scenes compared to other route. And I feel that I messed up the past/present tense in the flashbacks. ^^; And I’m still a bit confused about this route, so I had to use my own interpretation for certain phrasings. Especially because there is a lot of double meanings to certain terms which have the same pronunciation, and this usage cannot translate well into English. In any case, the later developments really took me by surprise. But it continued to make good use of the imagery and symbols of the fairy tale. Numerous references to symbols and lines outside of the fairy tale were made too. I would say that the ending is a different take from the previous routes. Wait, even the “bad” ends have a different take. Which also signals to me that we really are coming closer to the hidden story. And I also wonder how the previous four stories could be related… but I shall stop speculating before I say any spoilers.

Like I said, I’m still a bit confused so I have a harder time sorting out my overall thoughts as compared to the previous routes. Hmm the build-up and suspense to the later part of the route was good. Certain parts really freaked me out, especially since I had to write down all the details. I can’t say that I’m as convinced as the other routes, with regards to the relationship development between Shirayuki and Yurika. But perhaps that may be because I am still trying to wrap my head about understanding what just happened in this route.

Anyway, with this we can finally move onto the ever mysterious Wizard whose appearance is the total opposite of Shirayuki. I will be taking a short one week break soon though so I wouldn’t be able to play then. But I’ll see how things go. Till then~

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