“Gilles! Wake up!” I exclaim, running over to where he’s conked out on the couch.
When he doesn’t stir, I grab his shoulder and give it a good shake.
“…..What” Gilles grumbles groggily, his eyes opening only the tiniest fraction.
Could this kid have low blood pressure It’s not even that early but he seems rather irate.
There’s a huge, cavernous wrinkle between his brows as he looks at me in grumpy displeasure.
It’s rather rare actually, Gilles giving me this sort of look.
In a way, it’s quite refreshing.
For the most part he only ever glares like this at Liz-san and her goons…..
So this is how it feels to be on the receiving end His gaze packs quite the punch.
And it’s probably even more effective against Liz-san.
Considering how popular she is, I doubt she’s used to dealing with anything short of fawning, sycophantic smiles, so I’m sure being glared at by such a young boy must come as a shock to her.
Though, thanks to Henry-Oniisama, I feel like Gilles doesn’t scowl nearly so often as he used to.
When I first met him, he had seemed almost like a cat; constantly hissing with his hackles raised and on suspicious red alert.
…..Wait, this isn’t the time to be spacing out.
Giving myself a little shake, I straighten my posture and force my mind back to the topic at hand.
“Look!” I say and then lightly snap my fingers.
Instantly the map that we had spread out on the desk jumps into the air like an eager puppy and then flies over to me.
I catch it affectionately and then wave it around in front of Gilles, a huge grin spreading across my face.
Gilles, however, doesn’t move.
He doesn’t say anything.
He just stares uncomprehendingly at the map with his tired, half-lidded gaze.
No response at all…. I had been hoping for at least a little bit of a reaction….
“…..Yeah What about it” he mumbles, unimpressed.
“I’m using magic!” I cry, giving the map another little shake for good measure.
Finally, Gilles’s eyes spring open the rest of the way.
He looks at me with unconcealed shock, fully awake at last.
That’s great,” Gilles says, letting out a sigh of relief.
His eyes are wide and happy as they look into mine.
He must have been really worried for me.
Knowing that he was this concerned actually makes me a bit happy.
“Today is the day that Alicia Williams finally makes a full comeback,” I proclaim, smiling affectionately at him.
And at my words, Gilles smiles happily back at me.
“And Remind me why again are we sneaking out today instead of just going to see Arnold” Gilles whispers as I slink cautiously through the gate to the academy.
Although his tone is dubious, he still follows right at my heels, making sure to remain as inconspicuous as possible.
The moment I’m through, I’m practically blinded by the brilliant rays of sunlight reflecting off the copious number of stained glass windows that adorn the academy walls.
What could possibly have possessed them to add this much stained glass Instead of spending a fortune on such embellishments, surely there were other aspects of the academy that could have put that money to better use…
“Alicia, are you listening”
“I heard you.
I’m just a bit busy getting blinded by unnecessary extravagance….”
“Don’t try to change the subject,” Gilles says sternly, a hint of irritation leaking into his voice as he stares pointedly at me.
I narrow my eye at him as I stare right back.
“It’s not a huge deal.
It’s just that, after careful consideration, I realized that meeting with my father ended up further down on my list of priorities.”
“When did that happen Before, it seemed like it was–“
Originally, it was more important.
I thought it was one of the first things that I should take care of after my seclusion ended.
But a lot of things have happened since then,” I say, cutting Gilles’s pert remark off before he can finish.
The number of things that I need to think about really have increased tremendously during this past week.
This isn’t the time for me to be having a heartfelt reunion with my father….
True, the meeting won’t be all fun and games.
The threat of him forcing me to quit monitoring Liz-san is still quite the serious matter, but there are other things that I need to take care of first before I start worrying about that.
There are still so many things to think about and discuss with Uncle Will for example, and the matter of that wolf appearing as well….
Anyway, I have no choice but to push off the reunion with my father until later.
There’s lots to do before meeting up with Arnold,” Gilles agrees.
Since we’ve known each other for so long, I guess he’s able to catch on quickly and understand my thoughts with little to no explanation now.
“Right” I say, smiling affectionately at him.
With that little matter taken care of, the two of us start off towards the school building.
It’s only been a couple days since I was last here, but somehow it feels like I’ve been away for much, much longer.
You wanna make bet” I say, aiming a cheeky grin at him.
“Hah!” Gilles looks at me incredulously, like I inexplicably must have lost my mind.
…..Which I guess is warranted.
Springing that sort of question on him out of the blue probably would seem rather odd.
“I bet someone will say they thought I’d decided to quit coming to school,” I say emphatically, the corner of my mouth arching up in a smirk.
For a moment, Gilles stiffens, but almost immediately he relaxes again, a sardonic chuckle escaping his lips.
“Then, I’ll bet they’re saying you died,” Gilles returns, a smirk that mirrors my own finding its way onto his face.
Hearing his bet, it’s my turn to laugh.
I’ve got to be one of the only people that can laugh and enjoy speculating about the horrible rumors and gossip that people have spread about me.
“Wow, that’s pretty harsh,” I say, giggling.
“Well, we’re betting on the cream of the crop here.
All those highborn nobles that perfect their appearances just to cover up their rotten, base personalities.”
They’d probably jump at the chance to think I died.”
“It’s this depraved world’s fault.
All that matters is that you have a pretty face, and to hell with what’s on the inside.”
“That’s also true…..
though, having both an attractive exterior as well as being a good person is still considered ideal, right Someone like Liz-san,” I say solemnly.
Gilles falls silent at that.
If you had to divide us into factions, then technically I’d be in the group devoted to outer beauty, while Liz-san is squarely committed to inner.
Despite society being so superficial, however, my gorgeous appearance isn’t helping me at all.
Not that I’m surprised.
When others look at me, they likely think my looks err on the side of cold and cruel rather than beautiful.
But that’s just because of the eye patch! I wish everyone could just look past it and see how beautiful Alicia truly is.
Even if I was hideous though, I wouldn’t be able to join the other faction.
My insides are murky at best.
I obviously wouldn’t fit in there.
And I don’t even want to try.
I’m a villainess through and through.
Having a heroine who’s beautiful on the inside is good enough already.
My mind wanders absently over such topics as we walk.
“I think that describes you way better than Liz Cather.”
Gilles, head down, mumbles something into the ground but I can’t quite catch what it is.
“What was that”
“Nothing,” Gilles says and then looks up at me and smiles in a way that lights up his whole face.
I feel like it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen him make that sort of expression.
I’m sure it wasn’t nothing, but even if I interrogated him about it, I doubt he’d tell me… Besides, if it was something he thought I should know about, he would definitely have said it loud enough for me to hear, so it’s probably not something I need to worry about.
“Hey, if I win the bet, then I want your bracelet.”
At Gilles’s sudden demand, I freeze for a moment.
Glancing over at him, I notice that he’s serious.
just want to own something of mine…
I’m probably just being overly self-conscious.
Then, if I win…..
I want you to tell me something that you know but that you think that I won’t.”
Gilles’s eyes go wide.
“That’s it Are you really okay with just that”
“Just that Knowledge is the most valuable thing in the world.”
“I see,” Gilles says contemplatively, though not a second later, a smile is already winding its way across his face.
He sure is smiling a lot today, I can’t help but notice.
But then again, I’m grinning too, unable to help myself.
His smile is infectious.