“Oh right, Senpai, I heard you were stalled. Are you all right?”
We left the restroom because we were attracting attention and right now, we are in the middle of an open space in front of the main entrance where everyone first assembled. Slightly frowning, Gilbert-senpai replied “Oh.” after thinking for a few seconds. There was understanding in his expression.
“I see. So I was stalled, huh?”
“Eh, you didn’t notice?!”
“Well, the door of the restroom won’t open. I had a bit of trouble getting out but . . . I thought maybe it was because the door was fitted badly outside or maybe it was hit somewhere by magic and got broken.”
“If that’s the case, a pole or something must have blocked it outside~”, Senpai said with a cheerful expression. As usual, this guy looks harsh on the outside but is actually oblivious on the inside.
Anyway, as what the word “stalled” implied, he was detained in a physical sense. Although a lot of things can be done, such as installation of a magical barrier from the outside, how kind of them to only block it just like that.
Though without a doubt, I thought Knox-senpai’s companion did something to Senpai…
In retrospect, there’s no way a third year student could challenge a top student of the sixth year. Not to mention, the opponent is “the honor student Kralvane-senpai”.
“By the way, how did you get out?”
“How? I normally kicked it, what else?”
……It seems that the trapped person had a feat of strength.
Even though there is prohibition of magic in the restroom, I would tend to forget that this place is “this kind of academy”. But it’s fine as long as Senpai is safe.
“Meryl, were you worried about me?”
“Yes, of course. Knox-senpai was a bit scary.”
When I smiled and tried to pull his hand, I was already in his arms when I realized it. I feel like I could stay here all day today. I’d be lying if I say I am not concerned that we are being stared at by the people around us, but Senpai’s embrace is warmer and more comfortable than anything. To be honest, I would like to spend all my time here.
“Sorry to have kept you waiting.”
“No. I should be the one to apologize. I’m sorry that you had to kick that sturdy door. Were you not hurt?”
“Yes. Because you have protected me.”
I noticed it when I heard his kind words. It seems that the support magic that I applied on Senpai had expired.
When I tried to cast again another spell . . . Senpai’s hand stopped me.
“I just said a while ago that I will not use you.”
The word “use” pricked my heart.
Even though I was demanded to have “that kind of relationship” with him at the start, Senpai treasures me very much right now. It is already too much. If what he, Knox-senpai, said was true, my support magic is the only way to help Senpai. It is sad that it was associated to the word “use”.
“Since you treasure me, I wanted to give you something . . . Do you also call it ‘using’?”
“If it is like that, then it can’t be helped.”
Answering in a weaker voice than I thought, Senpai stroked my head while smiling bitterly. I wonder if it looks bad from another perspective if you want to be useful to the person you like. But other people don’t know anything.
“Your feelings make me happy, and it’s enough. Just stay beside me.”
“I don’t deserve to be protected. Besides, isn’t this an exam? Forbidding me to use magic, do you want me to fail?”
“If that happens, just say that it is all because of that guy earlier.”
He stroked my head as if to placate me, and I could not say anything. Although he looked like a very oblivious child earlier, he turned into a capable adult in a blink of an eye. Really, I’m no match for him.
……But if others would eye him with contempt, then I will not use it.
Really, I wonder how they view Senpai from their biased standpoint. He’s gentle, albeit a little oblivious, but he is a warm person who treasures me very much. It’s impossible for him to “use” me.
While receiving glares from the unkind people whom I did not notice unless I came across them, the full-pledged useless me had no choice but to stay still and be embraced.
* * *
Eventually, we still come face to face with some academy students even in front of the main entrance and after that, we kept running around until we came to the corridor of the special building which is opposite the school building. It seems Senpai is avoiding battles as much as possible. Perhaps if it was only him, he’ll fight no matter who the opponent is, but now he is protecting me who became a total baggage.
……I’m very, very, sorry.
“Senpai, I’m really fine, okay? Rather, please let me support you. I want to be of use even if that is what it means.”
“No. It’s not even an hour yet since I declared that I will not use you.”
“You’re not using me!”
How many times did we have this futile conversation? I wonder if this is no longer because of the comments of others but because of his obstinacy.
Maybe because he is avoiding most of the time, Senpai is a little breathless. Even though he has no reason to prevent me from having a battle experience.
“Okay. After the end of the exam.”
“Then what’s the point?!”
I raised my voice unknowingly. While we were arguing, I could not laugh because I was embraced by him. As he ran, he was carrying me under his arms.
“I understand, I understand. Then from now on, I will beat some of them properly.”
“That’s not what I’m trying to say!”
How should I put it? Being able to lightly say “beat” means that he really cares about me. I properly saw his strength at that ruined practice field. Yet all I did was hold him back . . .
“Anyway, release me, Senpai!”
“That’s a tall order. No one can blame me for staying with you all day, because if I miss this chance today, when will be the next time . . .”
“It’s fine if we meet during our day off, right?! I will now use magic……”
When I said that, he suddenly stopped walking. When I tried to ask him, I noticed his pointed look.
Before us, an academy student was standing alone behind the wall of the passage, hiding. It was a small girl who seems to be shorter than me. Even though she looked scared, she was staring right at us.
“…Can you end it in an instant?”
He certainly said “I will beat a few people”, but this girl did not come to fight. Tears were coming down from her wide-opened eyes.
“Senpai, don’t make her cry.”
“But I said that because we’re in the middle of an exam…”
When he hurriedly withdrew the pitch black staff he prepared, he looked at me with an obvious dejected expression.
…Really, if you wanted to fight, do not say it to “that student” in a strange way.
“I’m sorry for scaring you. If you are not going to fight, we will let you go. Can you run away?”
I talked to the girl at once. When I told her gently as much as possible, the girl shook her head, her shoulders trembling once again.
“Uhm, you came to fight?”
“Yo-You’re wrong!! I’m sorry! Please don’t hurt me!”
She shook her head. As if she was objecting. She is about fifteen to sixteen years old . . . probably a first year student. A team is supposed to be composed of students from first year to third year but there was no one with her.
…Maybe the others withdrew.
She was the only one left, so maybe that’s why she asked me, an upperclassman, for help… Well, it is a plausible situation. Senpai was showing off his skills pretty much from the beginning.
Waiting for her to stop shaking her head, I asked the same question again and this time, she cried frantically and told us something unexpected.
“………Someone summoned? For me?”
“Yes . . . I’m sorry! I was threatened that if I don’t invite you, Senpai, something cruel will be done to me . . . I’m sorry!!”
Calling me Senpai, this girl is really a first year student. Being dragged into this exam she was not familiar with, it seems that she was treated like a gofer……
“Is this the time to sympathize? Threatening her to summon you, it’s not normal no matter how you think about it.”
When I thought of comforting the pitiful first year student, Senpai spoke in a harsh tone. His mischievousness a while ago was gone. Anger flared in his golden eyes.
“Freshman, do you mind if I accompany her?”
“N-No! It’s okay, I think! I was not told to not to bring other people!”
“Understood. I will not hurt you, so lead us the way.”
He tried to calm her down while furtively emphasizing every word and this time, the girl nodded. After that, she said “This way” while trembling, and we followed several steps after her.
“Just to be sure, did you do something wrong, Meryl?”
“…I have no idea.”
I can’t recall. But like earlier, meeting Knox-senpai was unexpected. However, he’s not the type to threaten his underclassmen……
“…How about you, Senpai?”
“Eliza and the others are still at their homes, so they must have insistently entrusted it to other people. That foolish woman should not have been able to communicate other people but…”
Looking around restlessly, the freshman girl entered a building. Since the lower grades is not yet using the special building, it is possible that she is lost. Senpai, who felt concerned, pointed out a few things around us, but apparently she doesn’t seem to be lost. The girl finally stopped inside a rarely used room that was said to be a reference room for elective subjects.
Senpai opened the door before me. The interior was a bit narrower than an ordinary classroom, almost the same as the library room. Many books with with thick spines were arranged in a row in the bookshelves and those that could not fit were piled like small mountains on the floor. There is not even a spider web even though it was not used that much but it is a little dusty. I can also see the white clouds outside the window for ventilation. But there is no desk or chair unlike the library room, so this place must be used solely for storage.
“……No one is here though.”
“Y-Yes! Uhm, I have to . . . summon that person . . . yet. That person does not like to wait here…”
“Then why did that person designate this place?”
“Hii― I-I don’t know! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!!”
When Senpai only narrowed his eyes for a moment, the freshman girl lowered her head again and cried. Even though he is not that scary yet. Or maybe, the one who summoned me will do something scary to her?
“Uhm, I will quickly call that person . . . I’m sorry! I will return as soon as I can!”
“Understood. Uh, are you okay?”
She repeatedly bowed and shook the door knob many times with trembling hands.
“I’m fine . . . I swear, I will return immediately! Uhm, I will close the door but I will not lock it!!”
“Okay. Go hurry.”
Senpai waved his hands and responded in a slightly exasperated tone. Finally, after another deep bow, the small girl disappeared into the corridor.
And at the same time . . .
Hearing the shrill sound of something like a glass being scratched, I looked back at Senpai. He seems to have heard it, and after our eyes met, he turned his eyes to the closed door.
Her footsteps could no longer be heard.
“What―the sound just now . . . Was it magic . . . ?”
Both of my hands grabbing his uniform, he ran towards the door.
“………They got us!”
His extended hand stopped just a few centimeters away from the door knob. Rather, it was blocked.
His big palm “touched” something translucent.
“………A [Box Barrier]―?!”
Although I did not understand the meaning of what he said,
However, to him, who is the most flustered in this exam,
He has no choice but to understand even if he dislikes to be forcefully put in an awful situation.