Warmth of the Heart (extract, web novel)
Translation of a part of the web novel of Sword Art Online that was changed when published by Dengeki Bunko.
Mainly the part near the end of Part 2 and the start of Part 3 of Volume 2, Chapter 2.
This was from the web novel, so it’s technically non-canon for the light novel series.
The chapter itself is fine for all ages (I guess).
Although the Warmth of the Body fanfic takes its base from here, it was not part of this chapter in the web novel.
As I drank the soup, I murmured with a sigh.
“Coming… to a place like this for the first time, having a meal with someone I just met and all…”
“Is that so… You’re a craftsman class after all, huh. When going through dungeons, it’s pretty common to make offhand parties and camp with players passing by.”
“Hmm, I see. …Let me hear some. Those stories of dungeons and such.”
“Eh, al-alright. I don’t think it’ll be all that interesting though… Oh, before that…”
Kirito took back the two now-empty cups and threw them into the window along with the pan. Continuing on, he took out two large bundles of cloth.
When unfolded, they turned out to be sleeping bags for camping. They were like their real world’s counterparts, but rather large.
“These are high-end, you know. The heat retention’s perfect, and it even comes with a hiding effect against aggressive monsters.”
He threw one over with a grin. Catching it, I unfolded it onto the snow, and it seemed like it could fit three people of my size. Amazed yet again, I spoke.
“To think you’re carrying something like this around. Not to mention two of them…”
“Gotta make use of my inventory space somehow.”
Kirito easily took his equipment off, and crawled into his sleeping bag after laying his sword beside it. Following him, I removed my mantle and mace, slipping into the gap made by the bag-shaped cloth.
Worthy of the boasts earlier, the insides were certainly warm. And significantly more fluffy and soft than it looks, on top of that.
With the lantern in between, we laid down separated by a distance of around a metre and a half. Somehow—this was unusually embarrassing.
So as to distract myself from that, I spoke.
“Hey, tell me more about that earlier.”
Kirito put his arms under his head and slowly started talking.
A tale about getting caught in a trap by a MPK—the vicious criminals who lure monsters for the purpose of assaulting other players—in the labyrinth. A tale of battling a boss monster with unknown weaknesses for an entire two days. A tale of a rock-scissors-paper tournament with a hundred players for the distribution of rare items.
Each and every story was thrilling, enjoyable, and with a humourous bit somewhere. And all those stories made it clear. —That Kirito was in clearing group, one of those keeping up the fight at the front-lines.
But—if that was so— The fate of forty thousand players lies on the shoulders of this person. It shouldn’t be fair for him, risking his life for the sake of merely someone like me—
I shifted my body and looked at Kirito’s face. Those black eyes that reflected the light from the lantern threw a fleeting glance at me.
“Hey… Kirito. May I ask something…?”
“—What is it, being all stiff.”
A somewhat awkward-looking smile appeared on him.
“Why did you help me at that time…? It wasn’t even a sure thing that you would succeed. No… the chances of you dying as well were much higher. But still… why…”
The smile came off Kirito for a moment. Before long, he murmured in an intensely calm voice.
“…Rather than letting someone die, I would prefer to die alongside that person. And if that’s a girl like you, Liz, all the more so.
“…You’re really an idiot. There can’t be anyone else like you around.”
That may have came out from me, but—I couldn’t help but feel like tearing up. I felt something tighten up within my chest, and I tried my hardest to hold it down.
This was the first time I’ve heard words this naively honest, straightforward and warm since I’ve came to this world.
No—I haven’t heard such words in the real world either.
The longing for companionship and the ache of loneliness over these few months formed a huge wave within me, jolting through me. I felt the desire for Kirito’s warmth to get closer, enough for my heart to experience it directly—
In my daze, several words slipped out from my lips.
“Hey… can I… go over there…?”
Kirito widened his eyes for a moment, and before long, his cheeks became dyed in a pale shade of red; I then finally understood what I’ve just said.
My face instantly flared up. My heart started ringing out vehemently. I struggled to move my frozen lips, verbalising a string of disjointed words.
“It-It’s cold. …And so…”
—But, just as I was about to continue with how I could endure it, Kirito moved. Shifting his body to the further edge of the sleeping bag, and he muttered shortly with his eyes cast downwards.
Kirito’s side—looked remarkably warm. The urge to touch, to embrace his being begun to wash away my dishevelled and interweaved thoughts.
I pulled my upper body up, with my mind in a hazy fever-like state. Crawling out from the sleeping bag, I moved close to Kirito’s pillow.
Though Kirito, with his face red, did not meet my gaze, he softly raised the cloth with his right hand.
As I silently prepared to enter that narrow gap, I thought about how bothersome the long skirt and apron made of a stiff material were. There was no point in getting embarrassed at this point—or so I faintly thought in a corner of my mind, and opened the window, quickly removing my equipment. Ending up in a pale blue camisole, I slipped into the clot, starting from the tips of my feet.
Upon doing that, a soft, gentle warmth wrapped about my entire body; that alone created a sense of comfort that could make my mind fade away. More—I want to feel this more. I shifted my body, moving closer to Kirito. Clinging onto his upper torso, our forms entwined from our ankles downwards.
Kirito started to put his arms around my body, with what appears to be apprehension. With my face pressed onto his shoulders, I whispered weakly.
“More… Hug me, harder…”
More strength was brought into his arms as they hugged me tightly, sending shocks that numbed the core of my mind.
Unable to hold it back, I leaked out a deep, long breath.
This is truly human warmth.
I finally felt like I understood what I had always yearned for, that desire lingering in a corner of my heart ever since I came to this world.
That this is a virtual world—with my real body left behind far away, somewhere beyond my reach no matter how hard I try; recognising that scared me and I continued to set goals one after another, desperately devoting myself to my work. Forging swords, expanding my shop; I convinced myself this was my reality.
But—I have always thought this deep down. That it was all fake. That it was merely data. I thirst for it. For true human warmth—
Of course, even Kirito’s body was formed from data. This warmth engulfing me now was nothing more than one fabricated by electric signals sent into my brain.
However, I finally noticed. That it didn’t matter. Whatever my heart could feel—regardless of whether it’s in the real world or this virtual world, that would be my single reality.
I started to fade away in the heat given off by Kirito’s heart. I couldn’t feel where my body ended, with only the aching of my heart guiding my consciousness.
I knew of the option to turn the Ethics Code off. I believe I would have accepted if Kirito were to ask for it. But, there was already no need for that. The electronic pulse fluctuating between the two of us rendered our hearts’ gap to zero—
“More—touch me more…”
Each time Kirito’s hand stirred, sparks made my mind convulse. The fever enveloping my being steadily intensified.
Without warning, the back of my eyelids which should have been tightly closed turned white. My consciousness severed in an instant. I fell without any sign of stopping within the glossy darkness—
Even the answer to whether I fell into slumber, or blacked out, eluded me.
* * *
A refreshing scent wafted by, tickling my nose, and I slowly opened my eyes.
The world was immersed in a white brilliance. It appears that the dawn had arrived without me noticing. The morning light bounced incessantly off the walls of ice, causing the pile of snow at the bottom of the pit to glitter.
Shifting my view, I saw a pot atop the lantern, vapour wavering above it. That appeared to be the source of the aroma. In front of the lantern sat a black-clothed person, whose face I could see only from the side. It seemed that simply by looking at that figure, a small flame burst to life within my chest.
Kirito turned to face this way and spoke with a slight smile.
I replied. As I stirred to get up, Kirito looked away with a flustered expression. What’s with that, as I wondered that in a daze, I happened to look down at my body, on which nothing was worn aside from that simple camisole.
I slipped back into the covers in a panic, finally recalling what occurred last night. I see—I entered this sleeping bag of Kirito… we hugged each other… and then…
My face burned up as though it was aflame. Burying even my head under the cloth, I earnestly waited for these waves of embarrassment to dissipate.
Having calmed my heart down somehow, I stuck out my face and peeked at how Kirito was doing; he too, was looking away with a red blush on his cheeks. Slightly cheered up by that sight, I managed to speak after several attempts.
“Well… Well, last night was…”
I faltered at that point. I didn’t think it would be possible to express that experience in words. Hence-
“…No, it’s nothing… I saw a dream. A lovely dream.”
-was what I said.
“I see… Me too.”
Kirito gave a short reply, pouring the contents of the pot he picked up into a cup, before offering it to me.
“Ah, one moment.”
I opened a window, quickly getting my clothes on and got out from the sleeping bag. Sitting to the right of Kirito, I accepted the cup.
It had a floral, minty aroma; a kind of tea I haven’t drunk before. I slowly drank it one sip at a time. My heart snugly warmed up.
I shifted my body, moving right beside Kirito. Looking towards him, our eyes met for an instant, but we both averted our glances. For that short while, nothing but the sounds of us two sipping tea reverberated within the area.
- Translation – Tap