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To me, Lyra is a special existence.
She is my very first female friend who granted me more friends. She—along with the others whom I became acquainted with due to her—became a great help to me.
I have always considered myself a lucky person for being able to become her friend. Yes, it was perhaps my luck.
My luck continued as I finally managed to reunite with Harvey, my childhood friend.
My life seems to be looking good ever since I enrolled in this academy and meeting her.
Therefore, I really, really cherish Lyra and I’m so afraid of losing her.
When she was fighting as one of out class’ representatives and someone tried to hijack the fight with a malicious intent, I felt like my heart ached so much.
I was worried for Lyra and my friends who happened to participate in the said battle.
So, I was too relieved when I could meet them after the situation was declared safe.
As Lyra, Kiri, and Luca went back to class, everyone cheered on them and expressed their relief.
…I wanted to spring up to them and said those words loudly as well, but I lost to the others.
I could only watch from the distance as I saw my dearest friends getting surrounded by the others.
“Not going to go to them, Little Sheep?” Kuu-chan—or Carbuncle the dragon—unexpectedly stayed next to me as she asked. Even though she could just go to them with ease. It seemed that she really liked observing people, and this time, it was me.
“…No, it’s fine. Let everyone talk to them,” I said as I hung my head down.
After we gathered together with our group of friends, I still couldn’t voice those words.
“Aneki, thank goodness you’re fineee!” Briar-Rose jumped to hug Lyra, who yelped in surprise as she didn’t expect to have a senior rushing up to her like that.
“You’re fine, aren’t you?” Valerie asked as she stroked Lyra’s head.
“Aneki is strong, perhaps she noticed it beforehand?” Dmitria also asked.
“Eh, nope, I totally didn’t notice that something was off… Our chancellor seems to possess a unique power?” Lyra deduced.
“Yeah, she doesn’t look like to be an ordinary person,” Kuu-chan said.
“Mom and Dad didn’t explain anything to me when I asked them prior to their departure…,” Lyra sighed.
“Our chancellor indeed possesses a unique power, and her background is quite complicated,” Luca said.
“Eeh? Luca, you knew? Tell us, then!” Lyra immediately pestered Luca.
“I don’t feel like it’s a good choice to tell someone’s background without their permission. Perhaps in the future, you will know,” Luca dodged the topic.
“No way… But it makes sense,” Lyra first wanted to insist, but after thinking of Luca’s words that made sense, she finally gave up.
“Speaking of which, the war of intelligence would start soon. We should go and watch Ein! We didn’t watch him before as our schedule didn’t match,” Kiri suddenly said.
“You’re right. Shall we go there?” Lyra immediately asked.
…Everyone seemed to not mind about the incident earlier already.
It appeared that the academy’s staff were already patrolling the academy and found nothing.
Despite that, I still felt insecure.
Is it just me?
Again, I came to realize that I… was different from my friends.
At first, I was self-conscious but due to their encouragement, I came to not mind about it. About the fact that I was the most ordinary out of them.
But then, as our circle grew with the addition of the formerly trio troublemakers, I started to feel not confident again.
Lyra’s number of friends just grew, and the trio—especially Briar—were so attached to her. I couldn’t bring myself to talk and disturb them…
Hence, I felt like she was getting more distant from me. It seemed like even if I weren’t there with them, it wouldn’t matter. My presence was quite weak.
There were others’ gossips as well.
“Hey, look, that group over there is so eccentric.”
“Right, right? They have that strong Hartmann girl, the clever Loera heir, the crown prince, the crown prince’s aide, and a dragon. Recently, the Hartmann girl won over the trio troublemakers and made them her underling.”
“Gyaa, she doesn’t appear to be someone that terrific. It seems that appearance can deceive.”
“Hey, you guys missed one person in that group!”
“Eh? Who might it be? We didn’t count the Hartmann girl’s brother and his friends.”
“She’s their classmate as well. Look, that girl with ash-coloured hair.”
“Whoa, it’s true! …well, her presence is so weak and is covered by the others in that group, so we missed her… I guess.”
I happened to overhear them talking.
I didn’t know if it was because I was also in puberty, but I came to mind their words again.
Even if I aimed to become an alchemist, I wasn’t that good at it that people would notice me.
Whenever I stood with my circle of friends, my presence became the weakest.
Some even said that only I didn’t really belong in this group. I had been thinking that way as well.
As I was too overcome with my thoughts, I hadn’t realized that they were already walking to where Ein’s match would be held.
Kuu-chan noticed and stopped walking. Her words were what snapped me out of my thoughts, “Oy, little sheep, you’re going to be left behind, you know?”
‘Going to be left behind’. Ain’t I already getting left behind?”
“Ah yeah. Coming,” I said as I hurriedly approached them.
Kuu-chan didn’t continue to walk, however. It seemed to me that she was lost in her thoughts before she finally moved very quickly and grabbed Lyra.
“Wha?” Lyra was surprised by Kuu-chan’s abrupt movement.
“Hey, I’m borrowing Lyr and little sheep. Accompany me buy some food,” Kuu-chan nonchalantly said as she dragged me along. Without waiting for the others’ answers.
“Carbuncle, why so sudden?” Lyra asked.
“Kuu-chan…,” I weakly objected.
“Nothing, I’m suddenly hungry. Let’s eat some food from the stall. Any recommendation?”
“Really, you could have invited the others as well,” Lyra said.
“Nah, that Eine would be sad if all of us were late to see him. I’m taking you because you made some good recommendations before,” Kuu-chan said.
“Well, it can’t be helped, then,” Lyra smiled helplessly.
In the end, we went to the yard where several food stalls were lined up. Taking my and Lyra’s recommendation into consideration, Kuu-chan began her food marathon.
Lyra and I were satisfied with just one snack, so we decided to sit at a wooden bench slightly distant from all the commotion.
It was at that time I realized. Perhaps Kuu-chan wanted to make sure I could talk to Lyra, as she saw me hesitating whenever there were others around Lyra.
Kuu-chan seemed to not mind anything around her as long as she was satisfied, but she was a considerate girl deep down.
“Lyra… Are you alright?” I suddenly asked.
“Hm? Why?” Lyra was caught off guard by my question and asked as she chewed on her snack.
“Why…? You were almost harmed, right?!” I couldn’t believe that she already forgot about it?! Even when she was the person directly involved??
“Ah… Thanks for your concern, Iris. I’m fine, really.”
“Shouldn’t you be more on guard?” I asked as I was a bit upset that Lyra seemed to be so carefree.
“Well, I am on guard though…?” Lyra tilted her head in hesitation.
“You didn’t look like that…,” I weakly protested.
“Really? Maybe it’s because I don’t want to destroy the festivities. The adults have made sure that it was already fine, so we could relax more. Still, even if I look like this, I’m still on guard, so don’t worry, Iris,” she said as she patted my back.
…Again, I felt that we were from different worlds.
I didn’t know how she could look that carefree even when she was on guard.
If I were her, I would definitely not be able to put on such attitude.
Is it because I’m weak…?
As Lyra finished her snack, she stood up to go to the trash can. Since my snack was also done by this time, I followed her to walk to the nearby trash can.
“Still, Iris. It seems that you’re quieter lately. Is something the matter?” Lyra casually asked without turning to look at me.
So, she noticed.
Perhaps I should really tell her about my insecurities. Perhaps it was time I should be open with her.
“…Nothing. It’s just that… I realized that I was different from you and the others. You are all so dashing and prominent, meanwhile, I… don’t really have any quality I can be proud of, a quality that everyone can remember,” I said as I looked down.
Lyra threw her trash to the trash can as I followed her. Then, she turned to look at me and tilted her head again.
“Eh? That’s not true, Iris. You are amazing in your own way. You know what you want to be in the future. You want to be an alchemist and you’re already walking in the right path. I envy you for that, to be honest,” she smiled.
“Envy… But I envy you more, Lyra…,” I unconsciously muttered.
“…I don’t know. I don’t feel like I belong with you and the others, you know… As the most ordinary person in the group… I’m afraid you are all leaving me behind, one day,” I couldn’t control my mouth to stop expressing my ugly thoughts.
“What? No way it’s true! Come on, Iris. You are fine the way you are. It’s just your imagination, perhaps due to your lack of self-confidence? Be more confident in yourself,” Lyra said as she patted my shoulder.
It’s just in my imagination…
It’s due to my lack of self-confidence…
Be more confident in myself…
Again, it felt as if I was mistaken in opening up. Once I did, my thoughts started to come out of my mouth without any filter.
Is it the result of me holding it in for too long?
“That’s easy for you to say, Lyra. You’re an amazing person. Almost everyone knows you. You are strong, you are the duke’s daughter, and you are also surrounded by extraordinary people. It’s not just my imagination. Didn’t you notice? There were people who gossiped about how I shouldn’t really belong in our circle of friends.”
…Stop. Stop blurting out those words.
“Iris, don’t really mind their words. That is…”
“True. More people are drawn to you, Lyra. Erneste, Briar, Dmitria, and Valerie. They were all not ordinary people. As you guys get closer, eventually… you will forget about me—whose presence is weak in the first place. You guys will eventually leave me behind…”
This is bad. I am getting emotional.
“No, Iris, that’s not gonna happen…”
“It becomes excruciating to stand by you and everyone’s side. As the others would point their fingers at me and laugh at me for daring to hang out with extraordinary people. It’s… it’s sad to hear all that, you know?”
“Iris, I understand how you feel, so…”
“You understand how I feel?! No, Lyra. You don’t. You and I are very different. There’s no way you can ever be in my shoes. Please don’t take my feelings and insecurities lightly…,” I was triggered by Lyra’s words that I ended up becoming more emotional.
Although deep down I know Lyra is a good person, but I just feel frustrated at how she responded me. And at how she didn’t notice my insecurities and seemed to take it lightly.
“Ah… I’m sorry, Iris. But you’re an amazing person, I know. You’re overthinking it. You know, I even envy you…”
What can she envy from me, when I can envy all things about her?
“Stop pitying me! Lyra, I don’t like it if you’re like this!” I unconsciously raised my voice in frustration.
As I did, I regretted my decision the moment I looked at Lyra’s surprised face—it was a face I had never seen before.
And the most important thing is… how resentful I feel towards myself for getting emotional and having an emotional explosion at Lyra.
…She did nothing wrong, it was natural she didn’t notice my insecurities as I kept quiet about it all this time…
Feeling so ashamed at myself for saying those words and thinking that if I stayed, I would only hurt Lyra more, I decided to run away from her—I need to go somewhere alone, to calm my mind.
I am older than her, yet to think I just displayed such a poor attitude towards my best friend… Aaaah, I want to scold myself.
For now, I should try to organize my thoughts.
After my head is cool, I should go to her and apologize for getting so unreasonable at her…
For the first time in my long and peaceful friendship with Lyra, we fought.
It was really unpleasant.