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After Chancellor Sarrifissia left, I tried to train my body so that it would be stronger—as the effect of my dark magic outbreak and short comatose caused my body to grow weaker and sluggish. As expected, I was tired after trying to jog in the back garden and swing my sword for a few rounds. Therefore, I took a snack break as I watched some recordings of Harmonia Academy’s Quinquennial Festival that I couldn’t join before I continued a little bit of magic training with Mom as my supervisor. Luckily, my magic was stable for the time being.
Shortly before the sun began to set, Mom told me that Alt-nii and the others would come home any time soon, so I immediately took a bath and decided to wait for them by reading a book on my bed. The warm bath relieved a bit of my fatigue made my tense body to feel relaxed.
But when I heard the commotion from the first floor, my body tensed up a bit. The door to my room was opened, so I could listen to what was happening in the house.
““We’re home!”” Freyja’s announcement was quite loud that I could hear it faintly from where I was. I unconsciously smiled hearing her like that.
Really, that girl. She should have been educated that she shouldn’t raise her voice loudly like that. I guess she’s too excited and happy. Maybe it won’t hurt sometimes to let her do that. At least she doesn’t do something like that in public.
Thanks to her, I knew that they would soon come here. So, I closed the book I was reading and put it aside.
“Lyra-nee!” Freyja was the first one who showed up from the door as she jumped to hug me.
“Thank goodness you’re okay!” She said. …Was she afraid I would fall asleep for a long time again? Silly girl.
But I felt warm when I sensed Freyja’s fear of losing me.
Following behind Freyja were Freyr, Alt-nii… and then my friends.
Clavis, Harvey, Carbuncle, Iris, Ein, Kiri, Leticia, Briar-Rose, Dmitria, and Valerie.
If this were a hospital, we would be advised to not have everyone go all at once because there were too many visitors.
But uh…? Wait, we’re missing one person. Where is Luca?
I thought that perhaps he was the last one to enter the room, but Valerie closed the door after coming in the last.
Does this mean Luca isn’t here?
I felt a bit disappointed because in a sense, Luca and I were each other’s very first friend.
But… hmph! I won’t mind him, then. I should care about those standing before my eyes first.
“Aah, she really is awake!” Harvey gasped in relief.
Iris’ face seemed like she was about to cry.
“Geez, Lyr, you should be stronger than this! …But then again, your dragon blood is of a frail water dragon, so it makes sense I guess?” Carbuncle said as she thought over her words.
“Big Sis Lyra! I’ve missed you!” Ein smiled so widely as he moved to hug me.
“Anekiiii!” Briar looked like she was about to lunge at me. I tensed up to prepare myself when—
“Hold on, Briar, don’t be so rash, you’re going to hurt Aneki!” Valerie came to save the day. Hence, Briar tried to hold herself back and hugged me in a way that won’t suffocate me.
Ein showed a displeased look because Briar got in his way, but then, Leticia also made her way to hug me. Being hugged by three people at once caused my head to feel light… Give me oxygen, guys!
“You guys are going to kill Lyra,” Clavis came to save the day. Ein, Briar, and Leticia reluctantly let go of me.
“Just who in the world would do that to Aneki?!” Dmitria then said with an irritated look. Judging by her words, I believe not many people understood the true nature of the incident that befell me.
“Lyra-neesama! Please excuse Luca-niisama for not coming here… He’s uhm…,” Leticia apologized on behalf of her older brother as she seemed hesitant to reveal why.
“Is Luca alright?” The thought that entered my mind was about how Luca might be injured. Alt-nii had some injuries the other day, but it had been healed already. But as for Luca… I was afraid…
“He’s fine, Lyra. It’s something difficult to say, so be sure to ask him yourself later,” Kiri smiled as his expression showed that he was troubled to explain this matter to me.
“…?” I thought for a while before asking, “That’s right, Kiri! Are you fine now?”
“I am fine. It was hell during the first day,” Kiri bitterly smiled as he scratched his head.
“Kiri looked like he was suffering a lot! I was so scared he’d die!” Leticia added.
“Come on now, if he was about to die, I’d resurrect him with electrocution!” Carbuncle said as she teasingly smiled.
“Hold on, I was electrocuted to half-death state and you wanted to resurrect me by another electrocution?!” Kiri widened his eyes in surprise as he trembled a bit.
We all laughed after hearing their dialogue.
“Lyra… I…,” Iris was now right next to me so I could hear her small voice.
“Why don’t you two talk alone after all of us are done speaking?” Carbuncle suggested.
Iris nodded as she turned to look at me. Thinking that her suggestion was good, I also nodded.
“Can I have some time to talk with you later after everyone has gone home?” Clavis asked as he added, “so you guys can talk to your heart’s content right now. I can wait as my mom works here.”
“Alright,” I consented to Clavis’ request as well.
For Iris—I more or less know what she might want to talk privately with me about. For Clavis… I’m drawing blank here.
“So, everyone… I have something I have to confess. Perhaps you guys have known about it due to the incident but—”
Even so, I want to convey them with my own words.
“I have a strong affinity with [Dark] magic, it’s comparable to my [Ice] magic,” I explained after taking a deep breath.
“Mm… Yeah, Big Sis Lyra, we are all aware of that. Isn’t that amazing? I don’t see why you would hide that,” Ein was the first to respond.
Everyone was looking at me with their questioning look, all curious about that.
I was relieved they didn’t judge me after knowing I had affinity with dark magic. I could see in their eyes that they were just curious.
“Perhaps it’s because in some stories, dark is portrayed as the bad guy while light becomes the hero,” Alt-nii was the one who answered the question, much to my relief.
Actually, I was confused on how I should answer their question, as I certainly wouldn’t want to say, “I had memories of my past life and I am traumatized by other people’s negative view of me that was mostly connected with my dark magic affinity too.”
It was too much bomb for them to digest all at once. Plus, I didn’t really want them to know…
“What, Lyr, you can just silence them with your dark magic then. Screw them,” Carbuncle said outspokenly.
“Right, Aneki!” Briar vehemently agreed. Dmitria also nodded in agreement.
“Silly, that would make other people gossip more about her,” Valerie was the one who pointed out my worries if I were to go in accordance to Carbuncle’s suggestion.
“In any case, we don’t care about that. As you are still our Lyra no matter what,” Clavis suddenly said, followed by everyone’s nod.
I really was worried for nothing. And that worries turned into my Achilles heel. Sometimes it was necessary to be worried about something, though.
“Lyra-nee, let’s play with your dark magic one day,” Freyja suggested.
“Let’s play…,” Freyr nodded.
Even Leticia seemed to be looking forward to it.
“Yeah, we should,” I nodded in agreement.
After that, we chatted about many things, mainly the Festival. Hearing their interesting stories made me know which recordings I should probably take a look at. Thankfully it was a holiday tomorrow, so it wouldn’t really be a problem for them to stay for some time.
Still, it was near dinner time—which meant it was quite late—so we also offered them to have dinner at our place. But Leticia and Kiri refused, saying they would be going home right away as there were escorts from the palace waiting for them. It seemed that Kiri would need to go back soon in order to return home with his father on time. As for Leticia, she was reluctant to go back at first, but her maids managed to change her mind. Ein also politely declined as he wanted to accompany his parents eating. As expected of the only child. It was good that he was also a considerate child. My past self’s half-brother and only friend raised him right.
That left us with only people who were staying in the academy’s dormitory.
There was still some time before dinner, and the remaining people were so considerate as to let Iris talk alone with me. They all left the room and closed the door so Iris and I would have some privacy.
It was silent for a moment before…
We spoke at the same time, which surprised us. We were looking at each other to wait for each other to continue the sentence—only to find out that we were thinking of the same thing.
So, we laughed at how silly this was.
“Lyra, I’m sorry,” Iris said after we finished laughing.
“No, I’m the one who should say sorry to you as well.”
“But I might be one of the causes as to why you were—”
“No, it’s the weakness of my heart, Iris,” I said as I really didn’t want her to blame herself for this.
“I was rather glad you opened up to me at that time. And you’re right. I don’t know how it feels like to be in your position because I am not you. Though I may have experienced a similar feeling, but each to their own. Everyone feels everything differently. I’m sorry for saying I understand,” I said. I had reflected on our last conversation a lot and realized this.
When I was Reinst, if anyone were to tell me they understood how I could still feel empty when I had everything most people would kill for—a noble position, the strongest queen candidate, luxury—I would scoff at them too.
Nobody can understand everyone perfectly. That is why communication is the key.
“But I’m also sorry for not picking up that you have a lot in mind. I mean… I was told that your dark magic exploded because you had a lot weighing your mind negatively. I am also a bad friend in that sense…”
“No, it’s also my fault for not opening up about it with you. And actually, there’s still something I’m hiding that’s weighing my mind and I…”
…don’t think I can share this with anyone.
“It’s fine, Lyra. Everyone has something they don’t want to reveal to anyone. I also didn’t want you to see my ugly side but I ended up getting all emotional… You know what? My worries were actually for nothing,” Iris said as she smiled.
“What a coincidence, mine too,” I said, referring to how I hid my dark magic.
“You see… I cried myself a lot when I learned what happened to you. I was blaming myself while everyone… our friends… were so kind that they even tried to comfort me instead of blaming me. I thought they would blame me for sure…”
Iris then told me about how Carbuncle kept saying, “Lyr is strong, there’s no way she’d lose to this trial” in order to comfort her.
About how everyone told her to calm herself down first and that nothing bad would happen. We thought that everyone was also trying to comfort themselves by saying that.
Unexpectedly to both of us, Briar was the one who had a heart-to-heart talk with Iris. They were able to bond more as Briar also told Iris about her background. Compared to the outstanding miracle twins, she was nothing but a neglected child—one with negative reputation. She was self-conscious about it and was a bit insecure about that when she first joined our circle of friends.
“But rather than letting it drag me down, I tried to convert it as a motivation to better myself,” Briar said.
Iris told me that Briar didn’t force Iris to have this mindset—instead, Iris was free to talk to her if she was attacked by such insecurities again, as perhaps talking it with a [loser] like her would be better than talking it with [winners in life]. Iris seemed sad when she repeated Briar’s words, full of self-deprecation.
However, Iris said that she felt better talking about such kind of things with Briar—as she believed Briar understood more than the rest of us.
I was a bit sad that she couldn’t really feel good talking about such things with me, but again—different people, different things—perhaps Iris was more comfortable with Briar, so I shouldn’t mind that and insist Iris tell me too. It was good that they were able to be closer.
…About Briar’s self-deprecating words, perhaps I needed to cheer her up as well. It seemed that she was still seeing herself as a failure… That made me sad. Iris was insecure about herself, but thankfully she didn’t feel like she was a loser or failure in life. She only thought of herself as ‘less’ when compared with the rest of us.
“Then, Iris, if you feel like you have something to say about me, please don’t hesitate to tell me straightforwardly. Let’s talk it out instead of bottling it up and have a break down, okay?” I asked her. I didn’t ask her to let me know everything as I understood we all needed privacy and had something we couldn’t really talk about with some people—but we could talk it out to some other people. I didn’t want to be a ‘pushy’ friend.
“Yeah, I’ll try. You too, Lyra. And… and if we ever have another quarrel, I hope we can immediately reconcile,” Iris said as she moved her pinky finger at me.
“Sure,” I said as I made a pinky promise with her.
Saying that we won’t have any quarrel would be too absurd. I learned that sometimes it was fine to have quarrels as I felt myself getting closer to Iris after we had a falling out last time. So, instead of promising to not have any quarrel (as it might mean us bottling our problems inside), we promised to reconcile after every quarrel we might have.
“I hope you can forgive me if I’m dense at times. It seems my social skill isn’t good,” I admitted my shortcoming before I overestimate myself again.
“Haha… Same goes for me, my anxiety and low self-esteem can be annoying, but I hope you can bear with me,” Iris said.
“I hope we can stay friends forever,” I voiced my thoughts.
“Me, too,” Iris said.
It was good to have a mutual feeling in a friendship.
It was good to have friends.
As I closed my eyes, the image of my past self—shouting about how the current me finally had the things she could only imagine—flashed in my mind. I smiled it off. It’s true.
You know, Reinst? Having friends is really good. Opening up isn’t so bad at times.
Then, the ‘what-if’ question appeared in my mind.
If, in my past life as Reinst, I didn’t put up my guard and tried to believe in others’ good, perhaps I could have made some friends like Clyde and Nicole. Perhaps I could be happier.
But in the end, it was just a missed chance for my past self.
What is sad is not failure in attempting, but it’s a missed chance and regret for not attempting at all.
This time, I don’t want to have regrets and missed chances like that again.