First Year First Semester – Q of Hearts – Mansion (Part 6)
Note: Please don’t read it in the little pop-up for the reader. For some reason it doesn’t reflect my later edits (which I often make a lot of after publishing), so please click ‘view original’.
Count Tito and Claire were taken away by burly men from the knight order, and the parent and child were put on separate carriages for criminals and carried away.
They would probably be confined in the castle jail for a while, and questioned about various things.
I received Royce-sama’s permission to read the forbidden books, and plan to look up on forbidden magic.
If it’s the forbidden books in the castle, then a way to undo Claire’s magic might be written somewhere.
Royce-sama was heavily, heavily guarded and transported to the castle.
It was after a kidnapping incident, so I guess it couldn’t be helped even that he was confined in the carriage…
After knights were dispatched from the castle, Achille and I were quickly removed from Royce-sama’s guard. Kiiii! So frustrating!
Even though we were the ones who saved Royce-sama… No, Royce-sama escaped on his own, though.
Because of this and that, right now our job is done, and I’m in the same carriage as Achille.
We’re riding this carriage to accompany Royce-sama until he reaches the castle.
Our hours of sleep were cut down, and then we chased after Royce-sama, so riding the rocking carriage like this makes me feel like my consciousness is going to leave me.
Even though we have to be prepared for an emergency, so there’s no way it’d be okay to fall asleep.
I was nodding off, when suddenly Achille spoke to me.
I’m grateful, since I feel like I’ll fall asleep any moment now.
“During the events this time, I’ve been thinking.”
“Nn… Thinking what?”
Probably about the Royal Prince Faction’s schemes, or possibly…
“Camille, you consume too much.”
It’s about me!?
“Certainly this body’s consumption rate is bad, and I immediately feel hungry again, but in exchange I have the benefit of not getting fat-”
“Not that, Camille, I’m talking about your magic power. I’ve been thinking this since I see it from up close, but when you use magic, you spend more than necessary and let off a lot of wasted mana. Like that, you’ll suffer mana exhaustion again, you know?”
Because I made that kind of failure before his eyes, I can’t even refute him.
Also, in truth, there are cases of magicians running out of magic power various times while on the job.
At the time, a companion will have a recovery potion, and they’ll make do somehow, but… what Achille is pointing out is for me, something truly difficult to hear.
The mana recovery potions for emergencies that appear on the market have too weak an effect.
Even if you say they’re potions for recovering magic power, it’s not as if all your magic power will return after drinking it. Even now, an effective mana recovery potion has yet to be created.
That’s why Achille is also worried about emergency situations.
Honestly, this childhood friend of mine is really overprotective, huhh.
“I’ll try my best to take care. After all, I can’t use magic in an efficient way like you can, Achille…”
“Even though your magic knowledge and technique is towering above everyone else, the way you use your magic power is crude, so it’s really a waste, isn’t it?”
“By the way, isn’t there some trick to using magic power efficiently?”
Achille can already perfectly use only the necessary amount of magic power.
It’s unbelievable how compact and methodically he can convert magic power into magic. It’s enough that I admire him each time.
“It’s not that hard, you know? Shall I teach you?”
“Is that really okay?”
Asking Achille to teach me in magic is curious. Even though it’s always the other way around.
“Of course. You’re always teaching me in magic after all.”
“But you teach me schoolwork in exchange, don’t you?”
“Well then, we’ll do it in addition to studying. I’m worried. Finding out that without knowing it, you even got involved with forbidden arts… It seems like one day you’ll do something that you can’t take back…”
The fact that I knew about forbidden magic was exposed to Achille as well, wasn’t it…
But I’m not that much of an idiot, you know!
Forbidden arts are dangerous. Even if I gain knowledge about it, I won’t actually use it you know!
Suddenly, Achille closed the distance.
We were in a carriage, so it was cramped, and it was difficult to move about. Inevitably, Achille ended up stuck to me.
“So, Camille. When am I going to get a reply to my confession? I’ve been waiting the whole time since then, but…”
The very instant I comprehended the contents of what he slowly whispered to me in a sweet voice, I froze.
“The conversation has suddenly jumped way ahead again, huhh…”
Certainly I did get told something confession-like, but I didn’t think that a reply would be required.
Mm~mn… What should I do?
“…Camille, are you spacing out? Are you planning on pretending this didn’t happen?”
Achille’s voice brought me back to my senses. I apologised in a panic.
“Nah, but I mean, I’m your fiancée, so isn’t that kind of conversation unnecessary by now? Or so I was thinking.”
“Even though I told you my feelings? Are you saying you’re fine with a loveless marriage?”
Why did he interpret it like that?
“No, like I was saying, it’s not that, umm…”
Is it my imagination that I can feel some sort of pressure from Achille?
“Honestly, I regret mixing up the order. I don’t regret getting engaged to you, Camille, but making sure of your feelings first would’ve been the correct order, huh?”
Certainly, we got the order backwards. We’re in a relationship like that of a political marriage.
But Achille directly told me his feelings. Always, with his words and behaviour.
Compared to that, I use being engaged as an excuse, and always leave it half done.
This attitude… might be a little bit insincere.
“If you stay quiet, I end up misunderstanding it in a way that’s convenient for me, you know?”
“I mean, even when I hug you or kiss you, you don’t resist at all, right?”
Just because I was surprised and frozen, though…
“I-I-I-If I told you frankly that I was rejecting your confession, what would you do?”
“Then I’d continue putting in more effort until you looked at me. I’ve already waited ten years, so a little more is nothing, right?”
In other words, since the time I was six, Achille has liked me… and has been looking at me in that way?
Suddenly, heat started gathering in my face.
“T-, Then what would you do if I accepted?”
“Then it’d be mutual. We’d openly behave like lovers.”
I was agonising over it.
I don’t dislike Achille. But I don’t have any confidence that these feelings are the same as Achille’s.
I mean at any rate, including both this life and my first, I’ve never looked at a member of the opposite sex in that way even once before.
Even the people I went out with in my old world were people who confessed to me, so it was nothing more than me just going out with them to try.
Achille is always putting off his own convenience, worrying about me, and prioritising my opinions.
There are a lot of times when he teases me, but we trust each other the most.
Or rather, he’s basically the only member of the opposite sex.
On top of that…
That time, in the count’s secret base when I fell into the hole without a word… Achille jumped into the hole to save me, and even used his body to protect me.
When he was squashed under me and wouldn’t move… I was really scared.
When I thought that I might lose him like that, it couldn’t be helped that I was really helplessly terrified.
More important than rescuing Royce-sama, more important than making sure Mei was safe, what I did first was use the highest class of recovery magic out of worry for Achille, in spite of running out of mana.
This feeling is…?
“I… do I like you, perhaps?”
“…Even if you ask me, I’m stumped, you know.”
Somehow or another, even being hugged by him or kissed by him, I’ve felt surprised and bewildered, but never angry at him.
I wonder if that’s because I didn’t dislike it.
The one who’s always closest, watching over me, is without a doubt him, after all.
.Her final dialogue line,
“I… do I like you, perhaps?”
in Japanese first reads
“I like you…”
before going into something that roughly means
“do I perhaps?”
「watashi, Achille no koto suki…… nano kanaa?」
「……ore ni kikaretemo komarun dakedo」