Saying, “Let’s find a place if we have to talk”, we went to the cafeteria where we eat our lunch while he is still carrying me.
Even though it is crowded in here during daytime, there are only a few customers after school. The academy is always open for use any time, but there are two to three students who are studying today as well. Only the sound of someone washing in the kitchen is heard in this wide, unused space.
He dropped me on the seat by the wall instead of by the window, as expected, to avoid the sun, and went to order drinks. My magical powers are also replenished so I will treat my legs now.
By the way, “recovery magic” is one of the elementary magic one learns throughout the year. Depending on the amount, it does not consume that much magical power and I can even handle it easily.
However, this magic is also one of the special types, and users are required to have “aptitude”. If one is not born with it, it cannot be used no matter how skilled a magician is. Battle magic is complete but the point in using this boasts on the shape of the cane.
…Well, because the others are not good at all, the ones who are counted from the bottom have earlier grades.
“……Mm, like this, maybe.”
Faint light wrapped around my ankles and warmth like hot water spread. The throbbing, dull pain was gradually relieved at the same time, and after ten or more seconds, the swelling completely disappeared.
“So, you possess aptitude. I’m envious.”
Turning when I suddenly heard his voice, Senpai came back unnoticed. His movements seems fast since his legs are long. Carrying a small tray in his hands, I saw a steaming cup on top of it.
“Is tea all right with you?”
“Thank you very much. You don’t have aptitude?”
“I am an expert on how to break things.”
While smiling wryly, he handed the cup with practiced hands. The spreading fragrance softened the tension.
“…Mm, I’m envious.”
The taste is perfect as well as the fragrance. It seems that this academy is also particular with the quality of the tea leaves. As the warmth contained in a sip suffused us, sighs escaped our lips. It is completely different from tea that I properly brew in the dormitory.
“…Don’t you have something to tell me?”
After enjoying the tea for a while, it was Senpai who asked first. I wonder what he is thinking about today. There is no motivation in his tone, his eyebrows were lowered and he looks like he’s about to cry again.
“Well, isn’t it about what happened today? The actions of those girls were not your fault, Senpai.”
Rather, Senpai is also a victim in a sense. It seems they properly broke up six months ago. It also doesn’t seem like she loved him too much to act recklessly that way.
“But if you are not involved with me, Meryl, you wouldn’t have such encounter.”
“Well, you’re right. But it is strange to say you are taking responsibility of others’ thoughts and behaviors. I do not blame you for what happened, but I’m grateful for your aid instead.”
I responded as gently as possible and lowered my head. Senpai became embarrassed for a moment and muttered “Thank you” in a small voice.
“I will not blame nor get angry with you. However, I just want to clear up something.”
I placed my cup and took a deep breath, and the face of Senpai opposite me also stiffened. Although it is not a heavy story or a dark story, the silence that descended is strangely oppressive.
“What am I to you, Senpai?”
After a few seconds, what I said was what Eliza asked me. It is odd to be told by others but it is a fact that I could not answer.
Senpai was astonished. But that’s understandable. The reason was very certain for him.
“You approached me ‘because you want my physical constitution’, right?”
“Y-Yes. That was the case.”
Confirming my question, he nodded with a surprised expression. Perhaps for him, “what are you talking about right now?”
“It is clear that the reason you approached me is ‘because my constitution is necessary for the Kralvane family’. Then, what are we now?”
“I’m sorry, Meryl. I don’t get your question.”
Like a student in class, Senpai raised one hand. Surprise disappeared and now, he looks puzzled.
“Uhm, I will organize it. Wasn’t Senpai’s first ‘request’ rejected by me?”
“Yes. You told me that there’s no problem if there is love and affection. I get your explanation now.”
“……But ‘with just the reasons I explained’, it doesn’t mean it is romance.”
Senpai paused when my voice became slightly lower. I see. He just changed his “way of doing”. He “is not in love”.
His purpose did not probably change from the beginning. He is still trying to “persuade” me.
“Senpai was the first person who treated me like a girl. I have talked to male acquaintances, male friends and even male neighbors but we didn’t have a love relationship.”
My hands resting on my knees unconsciously clenched my skirt.
… Somehow I was aware, but I also do not want to talk about this. I felt my palms slightly perspire.
But I have to address this properly. Ask properly. I have to make up my mind.
“I was invited by such a handsome man and treated me like a girl. I might have been complaining but truth be told, I was delighted. Indeed, I was happy.”
Ah, yeah. It was not a lie that I don’t like it, but I was happy. To be treated like a girlfriend, it made me excited. Holding out his hands while smiling at me, I was actually floating with happiness.
I should’ve known that it was not his real intentions.
“Becoming elated during those lukewarm times, just going with the flow, I didn’t notice what I had to notice.”
Because the lukewarm times we spent together was comfortable.
Because I wanted to become more intoxicated with “being loved”.
“What happened today with Eliza and the others made me realize. What the two of us are doing will appear different to those who do not know ‘reason’. It’s not like I’m defending them, but what if it seems to be the same for other people…… That’s what I thought.”
Like what happened today, I don’t care if others will bring trouble for me. I wonder if people give up on love without knowing they “misunderstood”.
What if that person who gave up is perfect for his taste as I have imagined before… then that person is someone he could have a grand romance with, right? If he lost his chance for real happiness with that person, then it would be my fault.
“Our school life here is long. I think I also had indispensable encounters in my life. I do not want to disturb you and I do not want you to disturb me.”
“………Please say it clearly, Meryl.”
The voice that suddenly replied was low, sounding like rushing into conclusion. Even though I wasn’t glared at, but his line of sight directed to me hurt.
I grasped my skirt again, and as normal as possible, I made a smiling face and answered.
“Could you please stop this ‘way of doing’? I’d like to say I want to give up, but I want you to negotiate for my constitution in another way. For your sake, and my sake.”
We only had lunch. But still, we should stop playing games. We are neither friends nor lovers.
For instance, I have noticed something have grown in my chest.
A long, long silence descends.
It became near black outside the window and the bell telling it is the end of the school day rang. Unnoticed, there were no more academy students in the cafeteria and there was also a “Closed” sign board.
“………You didn’t believe me?”
Eventually, Senpai muttered.
I stopped… trying to listen to what he said. Because his good-looking face was deeply creased and contorted.
“I am the one who presented the ‘reason’ earlier. I perfectly knew, that I was always overbearing, and gave you a lot of trouble.”
Bit by bit. The words continued while leaving a gap in between. His golden eyes were completely closed, hiding in the shadow of a long forelock.
“Should I not because I have a ‘reason’…? Should I because I have a ‘reason’…?”
“What are you…?”
There is no answer to the question. With his low voice, I cannot clearly catch his mutterings. While his head is hung down, I will try to talk to him.
“I just wanted to be beside you, Meryl.”
His golden eyes opened once again and properly met mine. Even though it shined, only sadness filled it.
“I’m sorry.” Lastly, saying a word of apology, the tall silhouette left the cafeteria. I couldn’t find the words to say, just saw him off until he was out of my sight.
Starting the next day, Senpai didn’t come to invite me to have lunch.