Slowly, I open my eye.
As soon as I do, my vision is enveloped in green.
And as I take in a deep breath, clean, fresh air enters my lungs.
a forest Everywhere I look, I see nothing but trees.
There are no signs of civilization anywhere.
“Where did you take us” Gilles demands, still looking around.
“Relax~ We’re still within the academy,” Mel says, a leisurely smile lazing about on her face.
I knew it.
There is something off about her.
I knew she was going to pull a stunt like this.
“Since there’s no other people to overhear, we can talk as much as we want now~!”
“Talk about what” I ask, eyeing her distrustfully.
“Like~ I~ said~! Relax! There’s no reason for you to be so guarded.”
“There’s plenty reason,” Gilles insists sternly before I can say anything.
Mel’s cheeks puff out in a bit of a pout as she turns sullen eyes on Gilles.
The expression is extremely cute on her.
….I just can’t see how this creature could possibly be 18.
“You’ll both be fine~!! I really like Ali-Ali after all.”
“How can you say that when you hadn’t met her before today”
“But I’ve at least seen her before.
She is famous after all.”
“You like her just from that”
“Well, yeah~! And if it’s for Ali-Ali, I’d be willing to do any~thing!”
“There’s no way I’d believe that.”
“What can I do so that you’ll trust me” Mel asks, pouting again.
Their conversation about me continues without a hitch despite me not saying a word.
But there’s something that I don’t understand.
Why does Mel like me in the first place We’ve never even spoken before today.
Or, if we have, it couldn’t have been that important since I have no recollection of it.
“Hey! So what happened to your eye!” Mel asks, looking in my direction.
Her expression is positively brimming with curiosity.
“What is it that you even like about me” I ask, completely ignoring her question.
Since she’s older than me, I realize that I should speak more politely to her but….
after two years of not talking to anyone, I’ve gotten out of practice.
It just doesn’t come naturally anymore.
I guess it can’t be helped.
It’ll come back to me eventually.
“I asked first~! But, if you don’t really feel like talking about it, that’s fine.
Anyway, the first time I saw you was in the old library.
Back then, I just thought you were a smart girl and that was it.
But then I saw you at that tea party….
and I was mesmerized.
My whole body felt enthralled by you!” she says as an ecstatic, rapturous expression slinks onto her face.
One second her eyelids are practically fluttering at the memory, but the next her face is hard and angry.
“I hate…! Hate…! Hate….!! Liz Cather.
She’s so annoying! The way she goes around acting all goody-goody is just nauseating. Blegh!“
Mel’s face is slowly getting redder and redder.
She really is just like a child.
“If you’ve just brought me here to whine and rant to me about such trivial things, then I’ll be taking my leave,” I say and move as if to walk away.
“I’m not the only one who hates her, you know,” Mel continues in a calmer, lower, insinuating tone.
Her expression actually looks fairly mature and serious now.
“Ali-Ali, I just love how pragmatic you are.
After that tea party two years ago, you had already stolen my heart.
But today… Ugh! When you sent Jane flying with that punch, that was too awesome!! I fell for you all over again! Like BAM! And you know That girl just adores Liz Cather.
She practically worships her.”
Mel’s mood keeps changing so fast that she’s practically giving me whiplash.
One second her eyes have hearts in them and she’s staring at me hotly, and the next she’s staring at nothing, looking like she’s ready to beat someone up.
“Anyhoo, I just wanted to tell you that I’m definitely, 100% on your side, Ali-Ali.”
“Thanks, but no thanks.
I don’t need allies,” I say sweetly, shooting her down with a smile.
“What are you doing out here” I suddenly hear a familiar voice call out.
It sounds clear, crisp, deep… sexy….
and charmingly masculine.
I look in the direction that the voice came from.
I get the feeling that he’s gotten taller again….
His hair is also shorter than before and his piercings have increased.
A new jade green earring is now gleaming proudly next to his original blue one.
He seems to be surrounded by a glittering aura so bright that I can hardly bear to look straight at him.
It appears that a person can change quite a lot in only two years.
“Ohh~ look at that sharp chin! And those gorgeous eyes like the sea…! Wow, his skin is such a pretty tan color too….
And those muscles are drool-worthy….!!” Mel says lustfully, her eyes staring spellbound at Duke-Sama.
“Mel… You like Duke-Sama”
“Of course not.
But since you’re not saying anything, I’m just taking the liberty to express your thoughts for you!!”
“I wasn’t thinking any of that though”
“But he’s your fiance!”
“I don’t think he is…”
I’m not,” Duke-Sama agrees immediately.
Mel’s already big doe eyes go even wider.
“Then, that rumor…..”
“I did propose that we get engaged, but our betrothal was never finalized because Alicia, my important finacee-to-be, was inexplicably absent.”
At Duke-Sama’s words, I let out a breath that I didn’t even realize I was holding.
Wait, since Duke-Sama is here, then maybe I can finally ask about Grandpa Will!
“Doesn’t Ali-Ali look totally relieved to hear that” Mel notes, a strange look on her face as she stares at me.
“Duke, what are you doing out here” Gilles asks a bit suspiciously.
“I could feel Alicia’s presence,” Duke-Sama says by way of an answer.
“True~! She does give off quite the spectacular aura~” Mel sighs happily.
“She is beautiful,” Duke agrees.
“Uwah! I never thought I’d hear you say something like that, Duke! Wow.
To think that you can actually make that kind of sweet, tender expression.
Ali-Ali must be really special to you~” Mel cries in a sing-song voice.
“You must have been frowning a lot when you weren’t able see Alicia.
The wrinkle between your eyebrows looks permanently etched there now.” Even Gilles can’t resist the chance to take a jab at Duke.
“He really was!! You should have seen him!! He walked around with this terrifying black aura surrounding him all the time! It was like, ‘Do not approach me.
OR I WILL KILL YOU.’ ” The last part Mel says in a deep, sinister voice before she breaks out in a fit of giggles.
“Mel, what’s your relationship with Duke anyway” Gilles asks curiously.
While I was lost in thought about Grandpa Will, the conversation seems to have run away without me.
It seems that Gilles has dropped his guard against Mel already.
Though, that might be in appearance only.
“Duke’s my master!” Mel answers with a cheerful smile.
” “What!” ” Gilles and I say together.
Does that mean that Mel is Duke-Sama’s servant
Somehow, my thoughts are in such a disarray now that I can’t even tell down from up.
My brain feels like it’s melting from information overload.
“That’s why I’m so interested in the girl that Duke fell in love with!! Ufufufu,” Mel says, chuckling in that uncomfortable, ominous way again.
“Though, that’s not the only reason….
Cause I’ve fallen for Ali-Ali’s beauty and brains too~!” Mel declares and roars out laughing again in satisfaction.
….I really can’t keep up with her mood swings.