Chapter 106 – I Can’t Date! (2)
After the meeting, Louise realized that for the next week no romantic incidents would happen. Starting from today, Ian was under 24-hour surveillance, and no matter how brazen the Crown Prince was, he couldn’t do anything under the court official’s watchful stare.
Not that he should do anything in the first place. The writing there would remain forever by the name of the highest-ranked wizard and the strongest tax. If there were to be a personal love story about Louise that some future historian would read, she would surely die of embarrassment.
…except she would already be dead by then.
Anyway! Louise decided to forget about it for a moment and turn her attention to her friend Claire.
Louise put her arms around Claire and hugged her. Claire smiled sweetly and happily greeted Louise.
“Louise, long time no see. I thought I would’ve seen you in the capital at least once.”
“I thought so too. Were you busy?”
“Well…there was one thing and another.”
The two walked together across the darkened school grounds.
“It’s a little complicated.”
She shrugged and Louise looked at her concernedly.
“Are you alright?”
“I want to say yes.”
Claire sighed, stroking the back of Louise’s hand that was holding her.
“Nothing is alright… ”
She sounded confused, so Louise couldn’t say anything rash.
“But I want to talk about is you, Louise.”
Claire’s face turned bright when she remembered something.
“I suppose you were able to rest properly during vacation?”
“Well, I don’t think the President could bother you once he went to the Lapis Estate.”
Claire glanced around when she said the word “bother”, as if concerned if the court officials were in the vicinity.
Louise opened her mouth and wondered what to say. Was it okay to tell the truth? Although they kissed several times, but they weren’t a couple.
…What the hell is this terrible relationship?
Louise quickly shook her head–she thought it would be best to tell this story after it all became clear. Claire was going through a rough time, and Louise didn’t want to focus on herself too much.
“I didn’t see the president, but the greenhouse was very busy.”
“I hear there are always many customers in the rainy season.”
“That’s right. They all come out for dates. You should visit later. I’ll leave open the staff entrance for you.”
Louise smiled at her.
“It’s an honor.”
“I’ll tell Dean later. Even though he’s not my favorite, he’s my best chess partner and best friend to Claire.”
She know if Dean, lazy as he was, would come to the greenhouse, but he followed Claire wherever she went, so he might show up in an unexpected way.
“Well…Dean would love it for sure.”
Her expression was subtle. Louise stared at Claire’s face. Her eyes were trembling and she seemed to be worrying about something.
What if Dean revealed his unrequited love to Claire? However, Claire’s reaction seemed to be more serious than that. Surely they weren’t in a relationship where they kissed but were not a couple.
Louise shook her head. No way. Claire had a fiancé, and she was getting married this winter!
“You know, if you need a place to talk, I can…”
Louise scratched her cheek.
“I’m just saying! The semester has started, and we don’t know what’s going to happen. Sometimes you just feel like saying something. Even if you mess up.”
“Is it okay to mess up?”
“It doesn’t matter even if you change the word order! That’s what happens to me when I get embarrassed!”
Claire ended up chuckling at her enthusiastic response, and Louise felt relieved that Claire seemed genuinely happy.
“Thank you, Louise.”
Claire patted Louise on the head.
“Perhaps…I feel like I’m going to tell you everything in the future.”
“I’ll think about it on my own first.”
“Anytime is fine with me, really.”
“It’s the same for me, Louise Sweeney.”
Claire affectionately returned her words.
“I’ll listen to you anytime, too.”
“Even if it’s a mess?”
“Even if you don’t say anything and just breathe.”
It was so kind of her to just listen to her breathe. Louise stared at Claire with her eyes glistening.
“Well, for the first time in my life, I’m sad that I’m not a man. I can’t date this perfect Claire!”
“How long have you been obsessed with that? You should take a course this semester about different cultures and ideas.”
Claire recommended her some classes and told her some of the details. One of the messages was that people could love anyone.
Louise was deeply moved and hugged Claire.
It wasn’t until the next day that Louise had a realization.
Human beings could love anyone, but they couldn’t love anyone whose life history was being recorded. Indeed, today Ian was being absolutely heinous. He made a very good impression of a model student with his neatly creased shirt and neatly combed hair. He walked and sat in the right position, and ate his meals without leaving behind any sauce on his plate. He never complained, unlike the time he grumbled about his eggs being overcooked. He also helped other students with their schedules and the troubled caretaker with her workload.
‘Please don’t be so good!’
Louise couldn’t say this of course. If she did that, she would go down in history as the insubordinate Louise Sweeney.
‘You want to stay alert.’
Louise and the crown prince ran into each other in front of the Academy office.
“Nice to meet you. Did you hand in your course requests?”
He gave her a smile aimed to make her melt, along with a sentence that seemed to come straight from “The Great Encyclopedia of Etiquette for Children in the Capital.” He seemed to be trying to play the role of the perfect crown prince, and so Louise decided to go along.
“Hello, President. That’s right. I just submitted my schedule. And what about yourself?”
“I have a brief meeting with the clerk. Did the schedule work out for you?”
“Yes. I’m going back to the student council room now.”
Normally they would have been excited to share what classes they were taking. But not today. They didn’t want to make history with “Review of the Prince’s Hideous Classes.”
There was nothing more to talk about, but they couldn’t just stare at each other, so Louise desperately landed on another topic.
“Oh, the book.”
“You mean the book you lent me? I quite enjoyed reading it. I was wondering when to give it back. Return it, I mean.”
Normally he would have said, “I read it without spilling any cookie crumbs on it” and pretend to be proud.
“Return. That’s fine.”
“Well, I lent you something, too.”
Louise raised her hand and almost touched her lips without realizing it, but then deftly moved her hand and pretended to scratch her head.
How could the president say that to her?
“Judging by your reaction…Did you leave it in the capital city? That’s inconvenient.”
“N-no! I wouldn’t! No!”
“Have a good day, then.”
He smiled like a benevolent monarch and passed Louise to go into the office. The court officials followed him from behind without ceasing. Perhaps it was written: “His Majesty borrowed a book from Louise Sweeney.” Then it was followed by a description of Louise scratching her head stupidly.
It was so unfair. Seriously, what was this?
Louise trudged down the stairs and entered the long hallway. It was still quiet around the lecture hall, but it was sure to be busy when classes started next week in earnest.
If she went past the lecture hall to the student council room, Claire would be there. When Louise would meet with her, she was going to count how many of their classes they would share this time. Claire and Louise liked each other. It was natural to want to share as much time as possible.
She heard a call near the lecture hall. With the sweet idea of spending time with Claire, Louise turned around happily. The door to the lecture hall was ajar, and a living historical figure was visible through the gap.
He held out his hand without saying a word. Louise looked alternately between him and his hand with a suspicious look on her face, thinking it was some kind of trap.
“What on earth is that profane look on your face?”
It was his normal way of speaking.
…She never thought she would be so happy to hear him talk like that.
“Is it okay for that weird personality to become part of history? ”
Louise lifted her hand out timidly, their fingertips almost within reach.
He took Louise’s hand and pulled her towards him. She momentarily lost her balance and was quickly dragged into the classroom where he stood.
She heard the door close with a thud. She slowly opened her eyes, which she had shut without realizing it. As her surprise died away, reality came into view.
There was not the slightest gap between the two. However, he pulled Louise even closer towards him, as if they were still too far. The grip on her back was so tight that she was short of breath. When she managed to exhale through her open lips, she realized there was a strange sound of breathing in her ears. Like he had been suppressing something, and he was only just getting it out of his system…
After a long moment Louise spoke up carefully. Her lips touched his shirt and she could feel her faint breath.
“Are we all right?”
She meant the court officials. Luckily, nobody seemed to be in the lecture room.
” …If you don’t mind.”
After the languid reply, she heard a click.
…It was the sound of the door locking.