Chapter 121 – It Must Be Painful (2)
Ian mumbled as he twisted open the medicine bottle.
“People just assume I act like a vicious demon towards you.”
Louise didn’t exactly correct him. He wasn’t a tyrant, but he worked them all to the bone. Of course, that was true for any student council member who had to act as his hands and feet.
“Even when we’re attached together like this, no one suspects us.”
Ah. He didn’t seem pleased when he said that. Louise leaned forward and whispered in a small voice, in case someone would overhear.
“Isn’t it a good idea not to be suspected?”
–for the sake and stability of the Sweeney family, and for Louise as an individual.
“Besides, we’ve boasted about our strong friendship for a long time.”
“So there isn’t any reason to suspect?”
“That’s right, really, but…it looks like we may have boasted about the strength a bit too much.”
Ian titled the medicine bottle over a cotton ball.
“Our friendship is still strong. It includes Simon Hillard, of course.”
He didn’t forget to repeat their pledge of friendship, and then he placed the cotton ball over her burn, the green-soaked cotton sticking to her skin.
Pain shot through her hand, and she automatically tried to wrench away.
He offered a small apology and held on to Louise’s wrist a little tighter.
“You…you don’t need to apologize.”
“Does it hurt a lot?”
Louise bit her lip and nodded, and he loosened his grip and apologized again.
I’m sorry, but I can’t stop yet.
Louise didn’t know why he was apologizing so much.
“Simon will probably hear about this.”
“Yes, he’s been treating you like a glass bead ever since.”
And his feelings didn’t lessen, Ian could tell. He had watched Simon for so long.
“Do…Do you think I’ll be scolded by Simon?”
“After he severely scolds you, you should reflect on what happened today.”
Louise held back the pain in her smile.
“Scolding me is the President’s job.”
“I know, and comforting you was Simon Hillard’s job.”
It had been an unbroken relationship for a long time.
“…Is it changed?”
“It hasn’t changed at all. Not one bit.”
Ian then spoke in a tone as if to scold her.
“I worry about you. And Simon and I have the same heart. Just like you are worried about me with the same heart.”
“And we both equally worry about Simon.”
Ian shifted the position of the cotton. The green medicine dripped from her pale wrist to dye her sleeve.
“So treat Simon like ‘the usual Louise.'”
“Would Simon want that?”
Louise looked at him carefully. Ian spent much more time with Simon lately than Louise. She wasn’t avoiding him on purpose, but it just happened.
“On the level of how much you care for Simon, he’ll want it to the same degree.”
“Then he really must want it…”
“That’s right. Tell your thoughts frankly to him from time to time. Simon also wonders whether your pledge of friendship is strong.”
“Did you speak frankly like that to him?”
Louise seemed used to the pain now, and she was no longer grimacing. Ian nodded.
“Is there any reason to hide something so obvious? I think deeply about Simon Hillard.”
If there was a rule between the three of them, it was probably, “Clearly express your emotions in words.” So Ian must be sincere in his feelings toward Simon.
“And as for you, Louise Sweeney…I think of you earnestly.”
There was a faint note of desperation and delicacy in his voice, not for the lack of confidence, but as if to make sure he translated his mind correctly. Louise thought it was very kind of him to be so concerned.
Louise was comparing Ian’s words and actions to the original novel.
“When have I never been sweet?”
He smiled at her, and Louise shook her head in surprise.
“Oh, no! That’s not what I meant…”
Of course there was nothing in Louise’s memory of Ian that was unsweet. It was just like memories of Dean and sugar.
“That’s not surprising.”
He took her other hand, which had been resting in cold water, and dried it with a towel.
“Are you sure you’re okay? You’ve been…”
As he spoke, he suddenly placed the cotton on the swollen red skin.
“You look like you were thinking of something else.”
The way he spoke was rather accusatory, but it was true. Louise’s thoughts had been on the original novel lately.
Louise managed to stammer out an answer and avoided his gaze. She was obviously lying, but thankfully he did not question her any more.
He finished her treatment and returned to speedily making the lemon cheong, while Louise sat absentmindedly on a stool and stared at Ian’s back as he chopped the lemons. To be more precise, she watched the beautiful flex of his muscles under his shirt.
Ha ha. The male protagonist was the best. Louise wasn’t a pervert, of course. She was just appreciating beauty. It was important that an art history student kept their eyes on beauty.
There was the steady rhythm of the knife on the cutting board, and Louise kicked Dean’s calf with her feet when she caught him licking sugar off his hands again.
In the original story, Stella Lapis had a terrible autumn semester. Louise Sweeney had spread vicious rumors and even bullied her.
‘Oh, I’m sorry, Stella. The book was so heavy that I missed.’
The original Louise dropped a heavy book right on to Stella’s hand. What a detestable girl.
‘I’m not doing that anyway, so I’ll have a peaceful autumn.’
Louise stood in the library line and waited for her turn, catching a glimpse of Stella’s red hair among the crowd of students. Stella seemed to be doing well. If it weren’t Louise, who would gossip about Stella? Who would drop a book on her hand, tear her clothes, give her the wrong information, and tease her about her frugality? The only person who would do such a thing to Stella was Louise Sweeney, the author’s certified villainess.
Soon it was Louise’s turn. Louise set down the book on the desk more carefully than she had ever done in her life. She didn’t want to crush Stella’s hand even by mistake.
“You’re returning the book.”
Stella took it with a curt tone, and Louise simply nodded. This was the right distance between the two. They were each in their own lane…even if later, Ian’s and Stella’s feelings turned course towards the original story. Louise didn’t want to think about this as much as possible, and it was an excuse for Ian, but sometimes she couldn’t help but feel this way. Louise really was a weak character. A sullen person who imagined being alone and anxious…she hated it. She wished she could separate herself from it.
Louise turned away when she heard the thud of a book falling.
Stella made a startled noise, and Louise looked back in surprise. She didn’t do anything!
Of course she didn’t do anything. Another girl was standing in front of Stella, looking worried.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Stella. The book was so heavy that I missed.”
…Who are you?