Chapter 13

It’s nothing, you’re in denial.
(1)

[ Hello, Bree.
I received your letter that you went to the ball.
I’m so glad to hear that you made a friend there.

You don’t know how lucky you are to meet so many nobles.
I believe it was beneficial, your mother is very happy.

If there’s a ball in the future, I will send you an invitation right away.
So, I hope you attend it.

From your Mom and Dad who love and miss you, always.
]

The letter was all right, apart from the hasty sentence at the end.
I lowered the letter and glanced at Leto, who had overslept today.
Maybe he didn’t get enough sleep last night, but it was already 9 o’clock and there was no sign of him waking up anytime soon.
Placing the letter down, I approached Leto and poked him on the cheek.

“Leah, wake up.”

He merely frowned slightly.
He didn’t mumble as usual and appeared to be in a deep sleep.
I was planning on letting him sleep more but remembered that it was soon time for a major class.
It was probably better to wake him up.

I drew closer to Leto, almost a breath away, and stared at his face.
Before he wakes up, I’ll take a good look at his pretty face first.
Perhaps after feeling my gaze, Leto tossed around and slowly opened his eyes.

“Argh!”

“Ow!”

He pushed me without hesitation.
Thanks to that, I shut my eyes and fell on my back.
My back was aching.
When I opened my eyes slowly from the pain, Leto covered his chest and became wary of me.

“Wh-What are you doing?”

“Don’t misunderstand.
I was just trying to wake you up!”

“What?”

“It’s almost time for major class, Leah.”

As soon as I said that, Leto quickly glanced at the clock and stood up with a pale face.
Knowing that it was already late, Leto grabbed his uniform and rushed to the bathroom.
He hastily changed into his school uniform, packed his books and went out first.

“Huh? Let’s go together!”

* * *

The major class that was starting soon was Professor Hartz’s Black Magic class.
Leto entered the classroom with a stiffer face than usual and sat down while waiting for the Professor.

I spoke to Leto several times to relieve his tension, but he didn’t respond.
Well, this was part of my daily routine now, so I didn’t feel hurt or disappointed at all.

“Is everyone doing well?”

Professor Hartz entered with a long yawn as usual.
I wondered what was going on today, he appeared wearing a ragged grey top with saggy pants.
His hair was unbrushed, but I could tell he had washed his face since his eyes were sharp.

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Once again, he glanced at the students and began to teach without calling for attendance.
His voice clearly expressed his reluctance to teach the class every time.
It seemed more like he was dragged and forced by the principal of the academy to teach.

‘It’s surprising that he wasn’t fired as a professor yet.’

I had that thought every time I listened to Professor’s Hartz’s lecture.
But what was even more surprising was that he was very strict with the students, despite teaching the lessons lousily.
He would randomly call out a student after teaching the lesson, and if the student didn’t answer correctly…..

“This was explained before.”

He spoke in a sharp voice.

“Oh, th-that.”

“You didn’t listen properly.”

“…….Sorry, professor.”

“Why the hell did you even take this class then?”

So, I had no choice but to concentrate on this class.
This moment showed exactly why the students avoided Professor Hartz’s liberal arts class.
Pressured, I continue to focus on Professor Hartz’s languid[1] voice.
But oddly enough, it kept sounding like a lullaby.

“After this, we are going to conduct an experiment to make poisons, which is the basis of black magic.
If you make a mistake, it can cause an explosion, so do listen carefully.
Speaking of, Miss Pierre.”

I flinched when the professor called me.

“Yes, Professor.”

“You seem to be very sleepy.”

Oh no, I got caught.
But the Professor’s voice really did sound like a lullaby. 

“No, professor.”

“Alright, then read the text written on page 87 from .”

I hastily looked over page 87 that the professor mentioned.
The Professor’s order was to read out the black magic text written by Mersey, which was a difficult text to decipher.
Not only was it hard to solve, but even the grammar was disordered, making it difficult to read.

“That’s terrible.
Stop reading.”

After that, the Professor glanced at Leto beside me.

“You.
Read it.”

The student’s eyes turned towards Leto.
Leto was not embarrassed and began to read the text calmly.

Surprisingly, he read the text perfectly, deciphering the sentences without making a single mistake.
Professor Hartz was also listening to Leto’s words quietly, waiting to point out any mistakes.
Somehow I felt proud.
That kid was my friend.

“What are you smiling about all alone, Miss Pierre?”

“Sorry, Professor.”

I hurriedly erased my smile and focused on the book again.
When Leto finished reading the text perfectly, the professor continued the lecture without a single word of praise.
Then, in front of the students, he placed a jar on his desk using magic.

“Today, we are going to make a poison in groups of two by decrypting this text.
If it explodes, I’ll kick you out, so do it right.”

Afterwards, Professor Hartz sat in his chair and yawned again.
This…he was taking this class too casually.

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The students took their seats and slowly began to make the poison.
Naturally, Leto and I, who sat next to each other, became a pair.
Unlike me, who had no clue on what to do, Leto’s hands were relentless.
Without any hesitation, he mixed an unknown potion in front of me.
It wouldn’t explode, right?

“Don’t worry, it won’t explode.”

“Hmm.”

Leto glanced at me and smiled before asking.

“Why aren’t you moving?”

“Well, I don’t know what to do.”

I replied, pathetically.
Leto let out a long sigh and tapped on the Mersey text.

“Just do as what it says here.”

“But there’s so many parables and metaphors that it’s hard to understand.”

When I confessed my grievances, Leto lifted a potion.
On the black potion was written ‘Soluble Ash Powder’.

“Okay.
Look, if you read the sentence here, it says ‘Do not let the wind blow the deep scent of fire’.”

“Yes.”

“The deep scent of fire refers to the scent of this ash powder, and it means that we should hurry up and place it in the jar to prevent it from being blown away by the wind.”

He explained one step at a time.
Then, he quickly placed the ashes in the jar to prevent it from being blown away by the wind.
The colour of the jar turned dark red.
That probably meant it was working.

“Then, what about this sentence?”

When I pointed to the next sentence, Leto shrugged.

“‘It is better to witness a dragon shed a tear than to drink it.’ This is direct.
It means you should only put one drop.
How is it? It’s easy to understand, right?”

“No.”

“…Now, you pick.
Which one should I put in?”

He placed a few potions in front of me and told me to choose.
Well….since it’s mentioned a dragon’s tear, I glanced at the potion labelled ‘captured snakes from 100 years ago’.”

When I chose that, Leto nodded in agreement.
Somehow, I felt more confident.

He carefully placed a drop of the potion into the jar.
Afterwards, the colour in the jar changed again, from a dark red to a blue.

“Oh! It worked!”

“Now, what about the next sentence?”

“……Um, ‘In the cold winter, three steps should suffice.”

I inspected the potions slowly and saw ‘Melted Snow’.
It was probably that one.

“I think it’s this one!”

“That’s the one.”

Leto and I went to grab the potion at the same time.
As soon as our fingertips touched, he smacked my hand away.
As a result, my hand flew in the air and hit the jar.

–Crack!

The jar couldn’t withhold my strength and fell to the floor.
Everyone’s attention fell onto the broken jar, halting their actions that were making the poisons.
I was too embarrassed and was only able to blink my eyes while staring at the jar.
My heart raced at the sudden turn of events.
It appeared to be the same case with Leto as well. 

“S-Sorry.”

He apologised first.
Just as I was about to say it was fine, Professor Hartz looked at us and opened his mouth.

“Miss Pierre.
Miss Arsene.”

“……”

“Get out.”

“Professor, it was my fault…..!”

“Regardless if it was your fault, you guys are a team.
Get out.”

Despite Leto’s words, the professor spoke firmly.

“Leah, it’s alright.”

As I replied with a smile, Leto glanced at me and avoided my eyes.
I got up and left before Leto could feel even more sorry.
Leto followed in suit with his head lowered.

“….Leah.”

“I’m going to get some fresh air.”

Did he get sick? He hurriedly ran away from me before I could finish my sentence.
Though, I thought it would be a good idea to cool down for a bit.
I quietly waited for Leto to return in front of the classroom.

I thought he would return after a while, but in the end, he never appeared.
Even after searching the next classroom, he was nowhere to be seen.

‘Well, he didn’t ask me to wait….’

However, Leto still did not appear during the next class.
The only time I was able to catch a glimpse of him was in the dormitory right before I was about to sleep.
He entered silently and immediately laid on the bed.
I wasn’t able to talk to him.

The day passed by just like that.

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