Synopsis: A fast-paced story about a youngster who loses everything and everyone he holds dear. Through the only family that still remains with him, his uncle, he gets to choose to dedicate his focus and attention to blacksmithing rather than to fall into depression and street life...
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The next day, after having a slightly heavy head due to sleep deprivation.
After gaining support from Monica and my classmates during these times when the classes are difficult subjects…… finally, it was lunch break.
“Meryl, what’s wrong?”
As soon as he saw my face, Gilbert-senpai’s gentle smile faded away. Damn, I wonder if my expression is so easy to understand. As far as I’ve seen from this morning, my bear face should have not been noticeable.
“It’s nothing. Just lacking in sleep.”
“Is something troubling you? If I can help, I will help you as much as I can.”
While saying that, Senpai’s big hand caressed my cheek. Although it has a hard contour, it was very gentle and warm today.
“……Thank you . . .very much.”
Softly bringing my cheek closer, the tiredness and dull pain in that part seem to disappear. There is a comfortable and calming warmth.
The smile was back on Senpai’s face and this time, he held out his hands to me, who completely regained energy in a matter of seconds. Every casual action is pleasing and it makes me happy.
……That is why the matter that I was about to test from now on is a bit scary.
When I turned to look back, Monica is following us today and maintains a reasonable distance. She said she wanted to see Senpai’s reaction with her own eyes, so it is settled that I have to talk to him.
…I wish that it will not turn into a bad thing.
As I prayed, I grasped our connected hands tighter.
* * *
The cafeteria is crowded with academy students today as well. We carried our trays to our regular seats given to us as usual out of everyone’s generosity. It looks like we unintentionally choose the same menu again today. Looking at the contents that differ only by the amount, Senpai’s gentle eyes narrowed.
“Is that enough?”
“A large serving is too much for me. You’re eating well today, Senpai.”
“That’s because there was a practical skill this morning. Today, I am hungry.”
After we took our seats, Senpai’s meal disappeared in a blink of an eye. Although he eats gracefully as usual, it seems that he is really hungry. When I unconsciously stared intently at him, he embarrassingly averted his gaze as if saying “Don’t look at me too much.” What a cute reaction. Please stop it because I’m palpitating.
As soon as Senpai’s meal was finished, I perceived a piercing stare behind me. No need to turn back, since it is only my best friend’s stare. I inadvertently watched Senpai in fascination that I almost forgot to tell him something important. He has already satisfied his hunger, so it is a good opportunity if I talk to him.
Immersed in my own worries, Senpai tilted his head in confusion when I became tensed. Actually, I do not want to spoil this temporary happiness, but my promise with my best friend is also important.
……More than anything, I, myself, am also curious as to what his reaction would be. I breathed in slowly and exhaled. It’s going to be fine, I told myself.
“Senpai, in fact I . . . I was confessed to yesterday.”
I spoke slowly to make it as indifferent as possible. It sounded like a neat, unfamiliar sound.
After ten or so seconds, Senpai nodded back at me as he digested my words. In place of his beautiful smiling countenance was an expressionless face devoid of any emotions.
“………That, you mean a statement from a man, right? Who is it?”
“A Senpai from the third year. He told me he wants to go out with me.”
I heard something like a grating sound. However, the sound of my heart is too noisy and I can’t afford to look for the source of that sound.
“Are you going to go out with that man?”
“I don’t know. What do you think is the best thing to do?”
It felt suffocating in spite of my slightly low voice. But I still managed to pretend to be calm and ask. I wanted to say I will refuse but I controlled my heart.
The next moment, a sound of something breaking echoed. The gazes of the academy students around us directed towards the source of the unfamiliar sound. It was on our table.
……Don’t tell me that the source of that the sound earlier was . . .
Nervously, I turned my eyes downwards. I did not know what kind of sound that was, but now I am certain that it was a sound of something breaking.
In front of my eyes was the plate of Senpai’s lunch.
It was completely broken. Traces of it was left in the knife that Senpai was gripping.
He cut through the plaaaaaate—!?
I could almost hear the minds of the people around us shout. I wanted to shout more than anyone else!
The pottery and the porcelain the academy displayed are of good quality. And Senpai cut it with cutlery as if he was cutting meat. If you include it in the table setting, can someone still dine on that broken plate?! Moreover, Senpai’s eyes are looking straight at me. He was absolutely unconcerned that I am scrubbing my hands because of that.
Monica, what am I going to do with this?
When I sought for her help at the sides, her serious face became slightly pale. Hey, it is I who wants to become pale!
“……Meryl, do you . . .”
“Meryl, do you like that man?”
When he reacted in an unexpected squeaky voice . . . he continued with an unexpected question. Properly returning my gaze at him, Senpai’s figure filled my sight.
And here I thought he was angry. He lowered his eyebrows and bit his lips. His slanted eyes that are about to cry are trembling. He’s like a child who has done something bad. Or, like an abandoned puppy.
“……I don’t know his name. I don’t know if I like him.”
“And yet, you’ll go out with him?”
I want to say that I will not. I want to refuse and tell Senpai that I like him.
“What do you think should I do?”
I tried to swallow the words that I want to say and instead blurted out what Monica had advised me.
“I don’t want it.”
The next moment, my vision went black. I heard the sound of clothes that I have gotten accustomed to recently and a nice smell filled my nostrils.
“I absolutely don’t want it.”
My face buried in his chest, it was three seconds before I noticed that I was hugged. The echoing sound of both of our fast beating hearts can be heard, to the point that it would burst.
Did this man go out of his way to stand up just to hug me? Though he does not do it usually in places with a lot of people. Various thing crossed my mind but—
“If you can go out with someone you don’t like, then please have me!”
I heard his voice from overhead, but it was that of a sulking child who is not listening.
“……Okay, I will not go out with him.”
As I said that, I hugged him back. I wish I can tell him “it’s alright if it’s you”.
* * *
“The two of you . . . It’s perfectly fine to flirt, but think about the time and place!”
The one who yelled was a man who has a bound red tea hair and green eyes that resembled mine. He was the second rank in the academy, Duke Kimberley-senpai, who I saw for the first time.
It turns out that this is one of the empty classrooms. I do not remember well because we were dragged by Kimberley-senpai but we are not far away from the cafeteria. Looking down on us while we are seated, it is exactly a posture of a scolding person. And that’s what he really is.
“Hey, Gil, didn’t I tell you properly? Did you listen to me?”
“I remembered what you said. But I don’t want Meryl to go out with other men.”
By the way, Gilbert-senpai moved beside me and tried not to leave me. His body sticking to me is hotter than usual. With this, he really looks like a big child.
“Senpai, I will not go out with him. From the start, I intended to refuse him.”
“About that……. Should I say, I wanted to check Senpai’s reaction . . . ?”
Indeed, the feeling of guilt is overwhelming me.
I am already prepared if he becomes cold or angry at me but it was unexpected that I became overly sensitive up to this point.
I slowly raised my face and, as expected, his expression is that of a sulking child. His cheeks were dyed red and his mouth, which looks slightly displeased, was turned down at the corners.
…But for some reason, I am not scared at his glare at all.
“You! Don’t act like that with that kind of built. How irritating.”
“I’m sorry. But Meryl was tormenting me.”
“Are you that type of character that can be tormented? Elliot was troubled, good grief.”
Contrary to Kimberley-senpai who deeply sighed, Gilbert-senpai breathed a sigh of relief and snuggled up to me like a cat this time. I guess it is accurate to say that it is annoying, but I’m sorry. It looks cute to me.
“……So, what are you going to do? You made a mess in front of many people. Will you take responsibility?”
“It’s okay. I have always thought that I should say it.”
To the question of Kimberley-senpai, whose tone suddenly became serious, he answered in a burring, calm voice. His face when he turned to me was not that of a child anymore. His serious beautiful eyes, which were appropriate for his year level, gazed straight at me.
My face felt hot. My heart, which had begun to calm down, sped up again. I was grabbed by the shoulders with gentle hands that seem to be touching a breakable object.
“Meryl, marry me.”
“………Wait, isn’t the development too fast?”
“Oh, I made a mistake. But it was my real intention.”
What real intention?! I heard a tsukkomi behind us but let’s ignore it for now.
“I want you to become my lover. Not with someone you do not know, but with me.”
Saying the word “lover” in a serious tone, it pierced my heart with a heavy thud. This time, it was the word that the person I liked said. Not only “to have lunch”, but a relationship where we both want each other.
Senpai’s gentle hand unconsciously traced a line on my cheek. After that, flashing me with his best, charming smile, he said, “I’m so glad”, and touched it.
With no room to care about the popular person who is laughing in amazement, I, who was floating with happiness, kept crying in his wide chest for a while.