I can hear the sound of a bell at the distance. It was not a warning bell, but it is a bell that the afternoon classes have formally begun.
Even though I knew, my body won’t move at all.
“……It was my first time to skip classes.”
“It’s all my fault.”
As he said that, his big hand gently ran through my hair. We’re inside a still as death classroom, as if the loud noise at the cafeteria was a lie. Only the sound of Senpai’s regular heart beat can be heard.
It was very, very calm. It’s as if there were only the two of us in the world.
At such a warm time, I closed my eyes. I never knew such pleasant place, pleasant time.
Leaning on a wide chest, a man’s arm enveloped me firmly as if protecting me. The fingertips that were touching me were gentle, and when I gaze at him a little, he bestows me a smile.
“……I’m so happy I could melt.”
When he murmured, “Be careful not to spill then”, he added more strength in his arms while laughing.
I became Gilbert-senpai’s lover. That means, we have reflected upon it. To describe it in one word, it means we’re in a relationship, not even more or less. But if I show it with my body, it’s this way. I’m too happy that I’ll overflow and he forcibly trapped me inside his arms.
It is not a metaphor. It seems that I’ll really melt. How did his past lovers have preserved their figure until now?
“…Are you happy?”
“I didn’t know such feelings exist.”
It was Senpai who muttered it this time, and he smiled again. None of us said, “I wish the time would stop at this moment”, but it seems that it can be heard from both of our hearts. But even at this moment, the clock will continue ticking, it will not stop.
“……I was happy a while ago.”
“You said, ‘Let’s get married.’ I was glad even it was a mistake.”
Senpai’s hand gently stroked my hair again, and added, “It’s genuine, though.”
Then I’m happier if he insists that it is his real intention. That’s because—
“We can’t get married.”
It seems like there was a cracking sound in the air.
With his golden eyes wide open, Senpai strained his face strongly to the extent that the wrinkles will remain. He and I met for a strange reason, no matter what happened everyday… with a few unusual circumstances, I fell in love with him. He also became my lover. He said he was happy and laughed.
However, “the world aside from us” has not changed from the beginning. The only thing that changed was the two of us, and the environment surrounding us will not stop from concerning about us.
For the Kralvane family, I am a tool that will strengthen the head of the next generation and that will produce talented children. No, even now it is uncertain. I am just a little girl. I was not selected because of any significance or value.
When I was talking about the great romance campaign, it was easy.
Abandon one’s family for love? Such a thing only works in fictional stories. There’s no way I can order the man I like to “leave his family for me”. Regardless of whatever reason, I am only his current lover. To throw away such an important thing, it is impossible. Because he is the person I like, I can’t tell him. I don’t want to tell him.
“Even though you can “protect” me, we can’t get married. I was happy.”
He, who is a noble, should know the meaning well. In this world, there is something that is called “mistress”. Even if I will not become his wife, I can still be happy.
But there will be a beautiful woman who will be beside him during the day… Unmistakably, I won’t stand a chance if someone like Eliza stands next to me, and I don’t know what she’ll think if she’ll look at me.
Mistress… No, being a tool, I will be able to stay by his side forever.
“…It’s not something you say on the day I became your lover.”
Even though I smiled as if poking fun at him, he did not say anything, aside from looking pained. He just put more strength in his arms and continued to hug me until the end of the class.
* * *
After school that day, I met Knox-senpai on the way home by chance, so we went to the courtyard. In order to tell him that “I have someone I like so I can’t go out with you”.
“……I see. It is the result that I expected. Thank you very much, Ms. Foster.”
“No. It was I who is truly sorry. This young girl is unworthy of such words.”
“You’re cute. Don’t be too humble. More importantly……”
With a bitter smile, he stared behind me. It was somewhat sharp, just like a glare.
“If ever the outcome becomes painful, you can count on me. Because I can stay closer to you than him.”
After he said that, Knox-senpai ran away. He said that in a strong, clear voice unexpected of a human who was shaken just now.
“……Senpai, do you have some connection with him?”
“None? I haven’t even heard the name Knox.”
Needless to confirm, Gilbert-senpai, who tried to remember, shrugged his shoulders. Even if he does not remember, it is somewhat scary for a popular person to hear, “I stole the person you like”, in his past.
……Actually, I was stolen by him.
“Did you have a business in the courtyard? Or perhaps, was it me?”
“It was you. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to peek at the rejection spot.”
“If it’s you, then it’s okay. I was a little glad to receive your concern.”
When I secretly whispered, “Because you are my lover”, he laughed heartily. Yes, my lover. Not with Knox-senpai, but he and I.
I put my own hand on the big hand that was presented to me and we walked slowly under the dark sky. I let myself feel blessed right now despite the occasional curious eyes directed on us.
“Meryl, which do you prefer: putting words into action or action before words?”
When the entrance of the dormitory became visible, Senpai asked me in a loud voice that faintly disappeared. When I looked up, his expression looked pained. Like that time after lunch.
“Anything is fine.”
“……Well then, I will not say anything now. I do not want to create strange expectations.”
He strongly gripped my hand in return. It hurt a bit, but I did not say anything and looked up at his beautiful profile. He looked pained, but his profile is that of someone looking forward.
“I like you, Meryl.”
“That is more than enough.”
It was the day that Gilbert-senpai and I became lovers.
But I did not see anything like a bright future.
Yet still, our connected hands were warm, and I was happy.