aze hastily averted.

A somewhat puzzled look crossed my features, but I left the classroom promptly to prepare for Fina’s consultation.

During my walk down the hallway, greetings were exchanged with students as we passed one another.
Most of them had sought my advice at one time or another.
One of the know-hows I have picked up over the past few years was to call out the students’ names when greeting them.

“Ah, Teacher Kanaki…”

“Oh, it’s you, Eto.
It’s been a while.”

Right before the infirmary, I bumped into Eto after a long time.

Her shoulder-length hair used to be worn down directly, but recently it had been pulled back in a ponytail, possibly owing to the gradual heat of the weather.

“Your hair is tied up.
It suits you too.”

“…T-Thanks.”

There was an awfully long pause before she thanked me for whatever reason.
Did she erroneously assume she was being seduced as she subtly shifted her focus away from me?

Indeed, I acknowledged that Eto, or Arti, whose presence wasn’t here, had a well-developed visage, and I can’t deny that appearance played a role in the reason behind our constant intimacy.
Nevertheless, supposed I was to have a physical relationship with Arti, in the case of Eto, the likelihood of such a relationship would be close to zero.
After all, Matthias was beyond fearsome.

“T-That’s right! W-Will you participate in the student knight tournament? Registration is supposed to be open until today for all grades.”

“I-I am…”

“Ah, no, you’re right.
Don’t say Arti, even you would not participate in the tournament.”

“I-I am participating…!”

“…No way.”

I had intended to ask an obvious question to force a shift in the subject, but the answer returned proved to be too confounding.
Yet, after hearing the ensuing words, both my understanding and mild discomfort were aroused.

“Um, my father asked me to participate.
It might be of use for something…”

“…Ma, I mean it’s your father’s decision huh…”

Utilization was presumably related to the huge job at hand.
Expanding the range of options when eliminating two of the city’s most powerful and competent individuals was undoubtedly a plus… but Matthias’ idea of introducing even his own daughter into the mix was unacceptable to me.

“…I am well aware of my meddling but I can speak with your father on your behalf.
If you don’t want to, I can lend you a hand.”

“No, that’s okay.
Thanks to my father, I am provided with meals.”

“That is a duty that every child should be conscious of, but being selfish with one’s parents is another child’s right.
You have a lot of excessively philosophical viewpoints for someone your age.
Once in a while, it’s all right to express your aversion to things you don’t like.”

“…Teacher, you are very kind.”

“I can proudly say to myself this is not true.
All I want is for you to have a happy life.”

A spontaneous smile graced my face.
These were undeniably my true feelings.

Because in the future where happiness will be yours, if Mathias had died, I would be free to do whatever I wanted with you, wouldn’t I? That would be an irresistibly blissful moment for me, right?

Eto then became fidgety and suddenly lowered her head.

The ears, bare and shapely due to her hair tied up in a ponytail, were tinged with a hint of vermilion.

“Um, Eto…?”

When I called out to her, Eto lifted her face vigorously.

Her eyes were faintly moist―

“Teacher, then, I―”

“―!”

Right when Eto was on the verge of saying something, a blast of chilly wind swept behind my ear.

Turning around in a fluster, what struck my eyes was the look on Xenia’s face, saying, “I did it!”

“Hahaha.
It has been more than two years since our first encounter, yet this is the first time I have been able to catch your back.
Did you let your guard down?”

“Teacher Xenia… please spare me the shenanigans…”

“This is a school,” I whispered to which Xenia stuck out her tongue and replied, “Haha, I’m sorry.
Teacher Kanaki?” No reflection whatsoever was found on her.

But fortunately, no students were in sight when I looked around.
No, strictly speaking, there was the figure of Eto glaring at us right before our eyes…

“…Glaring…?”

“~~~~! Teacher Kanaki, you are a dunce!”

“Whoa!”

At the moment I thought Eto had exclaimed, she stormed off down the corridor.
The paper that was written “Don’t run in the corridor” was fluttered in the air by the wind from Eto’s sprint.
She was the daughter of an ogre, after all.
Her fundamental physical ability also seemed to be fairly high.

“…Or rather, Ms.
Xenia…”

“This is a school, Teacher Kanaki.”

“Ah, enough! That smug face of yours drives me crazy, so please knock it off!”

It goes without saying that I had an even tougher time fooling Xeth, who heard my seldom yelled voice and came out of the infirmary to check out what was going on.

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