Chapter 12 – Past, Preference and Perplexity

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This time, it is a little bit longer.

I think that “parting ways” is certainly a sad thing.

I never had a lover, and I don’t know how it feels to have to end a relationship with a special person, a person I like. Even if it is not the first time, it will always be a sad thing.

If that also happened to me, suddenly quitting being friends with Monica … I do not want to experience that extreme sadness. There are a lot of differences between “friends” and “lovers”.

Senpai, who muttered those words, became silent. He removed his right hand that was stroking my hair, and instead grabbed my two fingers, staring vacantly at a far distance. It is a small entanglement that can be extricated with a little effort. As I thought he is not acting like himself, and somehow I cannot seem to free my fingers.

Leaning on the lower wall of the passage, how much time has passed? Although it should not be a long time, the silence was somewhat strangely painful.

“……I’m sorry. I did not intend to say that to ruin the mood.”

Eventually, the voice that still seems to be down has not yet cheered up.

He weakly continued the “for the reference” topic, tilting his head sideways.

“Me, too. I’m sorry. Without thinking… There are also some things that you do not like to be asked. I’m very sorry.

“No, it’s not a big deal. How should I say this? I just thought of what to say to you, Meryl.”

The gold eyes that turned towards me again narrowed gently. Ah, really. Even though they are sharp eyes that are prone to turn up at the corners, it makes a very gentle shape when he laughs. Reluctantly, I like these eyes… no, the shape of the eyes.

“There is no point in telling lies to you now, and I’ll say things just like that. Originally, it is a story for the reference.”

The entwined fingertips pressed closer a little. Lowering my eyebrows, I tried to stop him but he gently restrained me. It is a gesture that confirms that the natural airhead man is still older. Occasionally showing a side of him like this, this man is being unfair.

“For the time being, you might think that this is ‘my’ excuse. I had a so-called entourage, and I don’t deny that there was a woman who was only there for ‘that kind of relationship’.”

He also added the meaning of things in his own standpoint, and really it is a bit sad. Considering he is from the Kralvane family, in a way it is natural. Because others are careful with what they say and they answer by bowing their heads.

“However, that woman I mentioned is the only one who came closer, wishing ‘just that’ from the very beginning. When I got bored, I went to another without saying anything and, to be honest, I was initially shocked at that relationship.”

・・・・・・・

I can’t imagine it a bit, but well, there are women who only want the body. There is also sexual desire on the part of the women, and I am not going to deny to the world that I am not experienced.

Are you okay? Anyway because I have too much pride to ask, I urged him to continue and turned away my face that turned red.

“I’m sorry, I guess you feel sick with that story. Well, maybe for those girls, it is likely that it was my status that attracted them to me. If self-esteem is maintained by shallow words, I tried to cooperate as a man. That’s just how it is.”

“Well… being seduced by Senpai’s beauty, if it turned out to that kind of relationship, it somehow appears like bragging.”

I don’t know. I don’t know but he doesn’t mind using his body for bragging. Perhaps this is the difference between a virgin and a non-virgin.

“Thank you. It is an honor for me to be acknowledged by Meryl.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m not at all filled with emotion. And then, what’s the continuation of your bragging?”

“……I was stupid, and as long as there is someone who wants a lover, of course a line is drawn. But I thought it is just all about… putting in emotions, touching your lover.”

It was I who casually returned to the topic and urged the continuation but… I regretted it a bit. It is because the voice that is heavy with emotions continued to the extent that I thought he was a different person from his tone on the first half. But Senpai hurriedly stopped me from speaking by smiling while looking at me as if telling me not to mind.

“Unfortunately, I have never liked anyone so I cannot brag about it. They always say the same thing. ‘His personality is different from what I thought.’ I can’t predict what it is, but I will not know such thing.”

I cannot answer to that low voice. I’m sure that I had that similar impression about two days ago.

“I guess it was my fault for not keeping up with their expectations. Those girls lost their interest on me because of that… I guess they were disappointed.”

“Wh-what disappointment… You were just different from what they imagined, okay?”

“Who knows? Perhaps they thought that I was a prince or something. Whatever anyone says, I am from a famous family, and in itself, have appearance and ability. The outside appearance is not bad. But I want to be seen for who I really am.”

Ever since a while ago, only unexpected things come out in front of me. Senpai’s expression is smiling all the time, but in a low voice, his self-mockery is deep. Until noon today, he should have been acting with confidence without being concerned about his surroundings.

Why did Senpai confront me like this?

I do not know what to say, my lips were half-closed. I cannot look at Senpai’s dazzling smile.

“…They lost interest in me though. Nevertheless, the actions the women do next are always the same. I wanted to break up soon, but they kept staying by my side. Do they want a connection with Kralvane family, or do they want a ‘decoration’ called me? To be with the same ‘woman only for that purpose’, the person that I should have liked, at the moment, it’s no fun no matter how many times it is done.”

He was saying it as if he was dumped. He certainly said something like he fell in love, and he probably “liked” that person properly. That person was one in his boastful stories… I do not understand what it is like after all. However…

“……Those people tried to get to know the real, strange Senpai, right? Because they liked Senpai, they became your lover, right?”

“Because we did not do it, we broke up. I tried to get to know them and I wanted them to know me. There may be excesses or deficiencies, but I tried to work hard. After all, I was the only one who thought of them as lovers, while they may have only looked at me from the beginning as “that man”.

Senpai, who was confessing, quietly breathed a sigh and closed his narrow gold eyes.

I was supposed to be planning how to run away and escape and yet… I seem to have somehow touched a troublesome topic.

At least he, whose shoulders were slumped in front of me, is not the “troublesome, handsome nobleman who, due to popularity, has no troubles with women” that I imagined. Senpai is just a man and whatever he did, it was suitable for his age. And due to his lineage and appearance, he personally experience twice as much unhappiness.

Well, somehow…

Though I regretted as it was not supposed to be like this, the romantic stories that I heard from Senpai completely remained in my ears and mind.

*   *   *

“…I’m sorry, Meryl. I told you a boring story. But that was my preference, by the way.”

“It’s fine. I learned something good in life.”

A few minutes later, Senpai, who opened his eyes, had that familiar, pure, expressionless face, and I was relieved. I wonder what would’ve happened if I have opened his past wounds because of my stupid motive.

“So even though Senpai is a popular, good-looking man, the world doesn’t go well for you.”

“The world works like that.”

“Right. I’ve always been single and it felt good.”

“Then that’s a problem.”

He was smoothly talking dispassionately and that last line stuck on me properly. Tsk, let’s leave it at that, Senpai.

The hands that should have been entangled lightly were obviously gripped firmly. I wonder if our fingers cool down each other. Familiarly adapting in sharing the temperature, it was very uncomfortable. Even after I heard his strange story, I’m still hesitant to shake his hands off. What should I do…?

I couldn’t find any words to say, and when I looked at our connected hands, laughter came overhead. It was a voice that is an unbearable system that comes from the throat.

“……Senpai?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I was thinking that Meryl is nice.”

When I look up at him, he looks like he’s having fun. His golden eyes became a line like a thread and his mouth is opened, laughing like a nobleman.

“What’s so funny with that? How rude.”

“You are fun, Meryl. Being by your side, I’m having so much fun.”

“Huhhh?”

Unconsciously, my voice was ill-bred, I’m begging your pardon. Since the rude man looked at a person and laughed at her, courtesy is not needed.

“……Meryl is the best, for me.”

Saying out loud the irritation from my heart to the target, I could only strike with my voice.

“……Whaaat?”

Perhaps my voice sounds stupid when I blurted my disbelief.

However, it was to no avail; his voice was wicked.

It was wicked…… and gentle.

“Meryl is the best.”

He said those words with care, one by one. It felt so tender that I could not answer back to the words that reached my ears.

The heat that spread on my cheeks was irritating.

“What I am talking about is my main preference. I have digressed, but my preference is still you. This has nothing to do with Kralvane. I think you are the best.”

To make sure that I do not react, he brought up our connected hands to his lips and made a kissing sound.

It was not the “made-up face of a carnivorous beast” he has shown at the cafeteria, but it was the spontaneous laughing face that I liked.

“I want to stay by Meryl’s side.”

Not good? The moment I read those words from his lips, I felt the hairs on my body stand up.

“………!!”

I shake off our hands in a panic and increased the distance. I know without looking. I’m sure my face is all red. Even the sound of my heart is surprisingly loud.

However, that in itself is already frustrating so I stared at Senpai as fiercely as possible. Why, why say such a thing now with such a face? It’s so unfair. When he only wants my physique…!!

“…I guess you don’t believe me.”

“But of course…!”

My voice squeaked a little but I did not pay attention to it. That’s because the golden eyes staring at me is still smiling gently. I want to escape right away. But, I felt like I was lost in it… I cannot avert my eyes.

“I am also honestly wondering that this is strange. Perhaps you thought about the girls we talked about earlier, the girls who I ‘liked’ at the moment. But Meryl, you’re different. It is not a strong emotion like an electric current, but it feels like I want for us to be together more. I want to talk more, I want to spend more time together. Warm up bit by bit. I wonder what this is. But because this is not painful, do you think this is becoming fond?”

“Wrong, absolutely wrong. Because you want my physique, you’re just unconsciously influenced to persuade me, aren’t you?!”

“……Did I seem like such a sly man to you?”

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One step, another step as he slowly came closer. While he kept on smiling. Even if I try to escape, our strides are different and our distance from each other will shrink.

“The girls that I have liked until now approached me. If you think carefully, my point of view seems to be biased at that point. But Meryl… you’re different. You don’t know me at all, and you refuse having a relationship with me.”

Just before he drew near, the footsteps sound strange. The distance between me and him, it was already not a half-step.

“Hiii?!”

His right hand, which I should have evaded, touches my hand again. His empty left hand surrounded my waist and closed the half-step distance to zero.

I’m scared, I want to escape. But I cannot move. Why? My heartbeat is loud. Reflected in Senpai’s eyes, more than shock, more than fear, I was shivering because of shame.

“…If I am going to have a great romance, I’d like to do it with Meryl. Do you not think that the person’s words himself can be trusted than from other people who do not know anything?”

・・・・・・・・・・・・

For a moment, I did not know what to say. Blushing fierily like that, I didn’t feel like saying anything, even just one word.

Like a little mischievous child, laughing hard at what he said, what he said next confirmed the fact that I did not want to notice.

“Romance campaign’, isn’t it? However, my partner must be you.”

“——————!?!?!?!?”

Ah, human being, we can voice out words that we cannot pronounce, right?

My eyes opened wide as if they’re going to fall from their socket and, as I trembled with shock, he hugged me this time while he guffawed, looking like a mischievous boy. Besides, he is pounding a person’s back. It hurts! What is he doing?!

Then, in other words, saying something for reference……He was aware!!

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“S-Since when did you notice?”

“From the beginning. When you are about to go home, I saw you subtly looking around for people. Since you’re thinking of having a consultation, is it about my preference? I followed you for a while since I became curious.”

“That’s basically from the beginning!!!!!”

I wonder if my hysterical appearance is so interesting. He loosened his embrace to look at my face and laughed heartily. Th-This man—! Really, how rude!

“……You’re business in this shop is?”

“I did not buy anything, right? From the start, I am empty-handed.”

He thoroughly showed me the pockets on his jacket and trousers. Of course, there’s no wallet or a piece of coin. This liaaarrr!!

When I raised my right hand to hit him in anger, it is confined in his arm before I could lower it. The soft thud that was heard is when my face bumped into his chest.

“Senpai is a liar! Stupid! I can’t believe it!!”

“It is I who can’t believe, Meryl. What with this making the sad and seducing perpetrator be taken care of by a woman? Is this an insult? Hmm?”
The voice overhead who was mumbling clearly to me is not laughing anymore. Rather, he sounded a little angry, and he was silent for a moment.

Well, it can’t be helped. I do not want to get involved in the aristocratic society, and if this is something that can make Senpai happy…

“Besides, it was only the not knowing part that I lied to. The boring, long story that I added are the facts and my true feelings, and I seriously think that you are preferable.”

The arms that were pressed around me slackened a bit more, and the upper body moved. As I raised my head, our foreheads touched as if it was already anticipated.

“I prefer you, Meryl. Have a great romance with me, to the point that I’d want to abandon the Kralvane.”

He’s too close. Although he didn’t shout, his voice resonates from my head down to my toes. It leaves behind a numbing trail of vibration as it passes through my body.

But, there’s more than that.

A blush dyed his cheeks and there are wrinkles between his eyebrows. His expression also has honesty and desperation like that of a boy that was so unlike him. The piercing golden eyes that makes me scared is beautiful.

And then, I ran away as if escaping without stopping, leaving him behind. I regained my sanity by the time the bell that signals the end of the school day stopped ringing.

“That’s putting the cart before the horse!” I said, which was the most correct retort that I should not say out loud, and our third day finally ended.

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