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Dinner was finished right in time after Iris and I were done reconciling. Dad was already home, and the dinner that night was so lively with the addition of my friends.
Since it was quite late already, my friends left after they had their dinner.
“You’re going to come back to school next week, right, Aneki?” Dmitria asked just to make sure.
“Of course I will!” I made a posture of ‘flexing my arms’ muscles’—although clearly I had none… (｡•́︿•̀｡)
“Then, see you at school!” Iris said, clearly in a better mood.
“Mm, see you,” I nodded as I waved at my friends in front of my house’s door.
“Should we send a guard to accompany them?” Dad asked again in a worry.
“Haha, no need. I am here. If push comes to shove, I can–,” Carbuncle smirked.
There was no need to finish her sentence. We all knew what that meant. Therefore, Dad didn’t call one of our guards to accompany my friends all the way back to the academy.
“Lyra, may I…?” Clavis asked once I went up the stairs.
“Ah, right. There’s something you’d like to talk with me about?” I asked as I sat down on the sofa in my room.
Clavis entered the room and sat down next to me.
“Lyra, has there been something bugging your mind aside from your quarrel with Iris?” Clavis asked. It was so on point.
“How do you know?” I immediately asked as there was no way I could dodge this question any longer.
“Altaire told me that there should be various matters to cause your dark magic to be unstable. He said I might be reluctant to tell a family member, so I offered myself to ask you,” Clavis said before he added.
“I know how it feels like having some things we can’t come clean to our family members. It’s exactly because we’re close that we hesitate to tell them… right? I promise I won’t tell them if you don’t want to. I just want you to know that I’m right here by your side, so you can come to me whenever you need me. You extended a helping hand to me when I was in a similar situation, so it’s my turn to help you this time.”
I was touched by Clavis’ words. He related what happened to me to what happened when his werebeast power awakened.
“But I won’t force you if you don’t want to talk about it,” Clavis added after a moment of silent.
Well, I just happen to need someone to tell this to.
“Clavis… I… to be honest, I’m still not sure of it all… To be honest, I’m scared,” I said as I hung my head down.
Instead of asking me questions, Clavis only stayed silent as he waited for me to continue. I took a deep breath before I continued.
“I have something I’ve been hiding from everyone all this time, but I don’t want to talk about it. I’m afraid if I were to tell anyone this, I… our relationships will change to the worse. I know that it might be my paranoia, but I treasure everyone so much that I’m scared of losing it all…”
“Lyra… You know that your family and friends—or at least me—won’t shun you no matter what, right?” Clavis calmly asked.
“I know, but at the same time, in the corner of my heart…”
“…I understand. But Lyra, that secret you’re hiding… It isn’t something that will hurt others, right?”
“No, of course not… Uhm, I think it isn’t. But my dark magic might have something to do with it…”
“If it’s burdening you that much and you want to tell someone or consult it with someone you trust, then that will be good. But in case telling someone puts more burden to you… Will you be able to try untangle the knot yourself?” Clavis looked into my eyes solemnly.
“…I will try,” I said as that was what I was thinking all along.
Ever since I woke up, my mind had been thinking about what to do next with my dark magic. My magic outbreak convinced me that I had no choice but to master dark magic, at least to a certain degree that would enable me to have control over it. So that there won’t be the next time… So that I wouldn’t be manipulated.
But I am also aware that the source of the ‘darkness’ within my heart, one that I had to overcome actually lied in my past lifetime.
Perhaps I could try untangling the knot myself, like Clavis said. But if push comes to shove, then I might need some helping hand. Will I be able to get an external help without spilling everything?
I’m still uneasy about telling my past identity to anyone, going by the relationships we had. I should be around the same age or generation as my current parents and almost became King Titus’ suitor. How awkward can the situation be?
Even if they can accept that part of me and won’t see me as something weird, there’s bound to be some awkwardness. The parent-child relationship might turn into an equal relationship of someone from the same generation, and that would be bad.
…Really, why did that light-god reincarnate me under such awkward position?
“Remember Lyra, you are not alone.”
Clavis’ words pulled me back to reality and touched my heart at the same time.
That’s right. The outbreak happened because I was trying to handle everything alone. But I am no longer alone, like what the little Reinst told me when I was in comatose.
If—even after trying hard—I encounter a dead end, perhaps at that time I should really discuss this with someone else.
Mom is the Head of the Royal Magicians, I already have the greatest assistance one can ever hope for.
“Thank you, Clavis. Really,” I raised my face and smiled at him.
Clavis was stunned at first, but he quickly added, “But don’t overdo yourself, okay?”
“Mm, okay,” I nodded.
“And Lyra… I know you are strong, but…,” Clavis added.
“But at the same time, I see that you are fragile. If you are tired of trying to act strong, if you ever feel like you want to just be protected…,” Clavis suddenly stood up and went in front of me.
Then, he kneeled like how a knight would.
He also took my hand and… kissed it!
“I will be the knight that will protect you. That’s why I’ve been trying to be stronger,” he said after his lips parted from my hand.
Oh my gosh, I feel like my cheeks are heating up.
After that, Clavis let go of my hand and added while still kneeling, “I’ve been wanting to tell you all this time, but I held myself back because I really like seeing you the way you are, Lyra. I don’t want you to feel awkward around me, so I held myself back all this time. But after that incident and after seeing the fragile you, I couldn’t hold myself again.”
I had a hunch that Clavis was… to me… but I denied it and my mind was too focused on other things. Besides, aren’t we too young for this?
Clavis smiled as he went back to sit.
“I just want you to keep that in mind so you know that you will always have someone by your side whenever you need it. But let’s act like usual, okay?” Clavis asked.
I can’t promise you I can act like usual, but I’ve been used to masking myself as Reinst all along, so I should be able to…
“Haha, this is precisely why I thought of waiting for a little bit longer,” Clavis laughed after I didn’t give any precise answer to him.
“But I won’t regret this,” he said with a charming smile.
Oh my… God!!
Even in the thirteen years I spent as Reinst, never once did I encounter myself in this type of situation, so I was completely clueless on how I should act.
“If you’re feeling that awkward, you can see me as someone like your big brother, then,” Clavis said with a troubled expression before he added, “I remember when we were children, you addressed me as ‘Clavis-nii’ but since who-knows-when, you deleted that ‘-nii’.”
Ah, that. Yeah, I remember that, too.
I acted like a child confused in learning about the correct usage of the honorifics and distinguishing between family or not. Besides, he was kinda like a brother, too.
But as time passed by, I no longer felt the need to show my confusion over honorifics usage and people would see it weird if I addressed him with ‘-nii’, so I addressed Clavis with just his name. It would be awkward for me to continue addressing him with ‘-nii’ after I grew up.
“I was a bit sad at that time, but now I’m glad for it instead. So I know you don’t just see me as your big brother,” Clavis smiled meaningfully.
Gah! He is just 14 years old this year, but he’s so smooth!
It is true that he has been holding back all this time!
“…Thank you, Clavis… I—”
“I know you can’t answer me now, and I don’t mind waiting. So, please just continue being yourself and answer me when you feel like you’ve found the answer,” Clavis knew what I was going to say, so he cut my words off.
“Thank you, really,” I smiled at him.
That’s right. We are still young. It can also be that Clavis mistook his protective feelings towards me as… affection. It could also be familial affection.
So, it would be better to take one step at the moment.
There is still an important knot that I have to untangle in my life.
Thus, my private talk with Clavis ended.
I felt like I was slightly more relieved upon knowing that I had someone who’d side with me no matter what. I saw sincerity in his eyes, so I chose to believe that instead of doubting like how I usually did.
If my trust was proven to be wrong, then the problem wasn’t in me for trusting, but it lied in that person’s attitude.
That’s what I’ve learned from my life so far.
That night, when Mom checked on me again, she dropped a question to me.
“How do you feel after meeting your friends again, Lyra?”
“Mm, I feel good and happy, Mom. Having friends is really good,” I smiled happily before I remembered something.
“What’s wrong?” Mom picked up on my weird expression.
“That’s right, Mom. Luca is more or less my very first friend of the same age, right? I thought he would care, but he didn’t even come to visit me. He doesn’t even care about me…,” I whined a bit. I was still feeling sour upon this.
Mom then smiled.
I sulked upon seeing her smile. It wasn’t the appropriate response, hello?
“Really, Lyra. It’s not that Luca doesn’t care about you. He cares a great deal about you, that I know. He visited you when you were still unconscious after all,” Mom told me.
“Eh, really? But why won’t he see me, then?” That’s weird.
“Perhaps he doesn’t feel like he has any face to see you after failing to help you? He even skipped school today, if I remember correctly,” Mom raised her eyebrow in a teasing manner.
“What? How could that be? What could he have done at that time?” I scolded Luca in my heart. If that was the case, then his pride was too big. He couldn’t even do anything under such situation, and yet…
“Oh, he could have done something and so he did,” Mom suddenly dropped a bomb on me.
“Eh?” I immediately turned to look at Mom with my questioning gaze.
Mom laughed looking at my reaction as she whispered to my ears…
“What? Really?” I widened my eyes in surprise.
“Why don’t you ask him yourself if you’re doubting it?” Mom suggested.
“…Then,” I closed my eyes as I steeled my resolve.
“Can I go to the Capicastle to see him tomorrow?”