Gille’s laugh is the first thing to break the silence.
“Alicia, you’re always doing things that go far beyond my expectations.”
He spoke quietly, but his words seem to resound throughout the silent dining hall.
Do I dare take that to be a compliment” I ask, laughing girlishly.
“By all means,” Gilles says, smiling happily back.
As I thought, Gilles really does seem to smile more often than he did in the past.
As I smile back, a couple strands of my hair that got cut too short fall into my face.
Sweeping them behind my I ear I make a mental note to fix up my ends with magic later.
Then I turn back towards Carol, take a few steps closer, and stick out my hand to her.
“It’s been a pleasure, Carol.”
Carol’s eyes pop open and her whole body stiffens.
It almost looks like there might be tears in her eyes.
Was she that moved But….
“Just now, you….
my… my name….” Carol gasps out, her misty eyes boring holes into me.
….Really Was she that happy that I used her name
“To have that much of a reaction to just being called by her name, someone’s loved, ay Alicia” Gilles says, smirking at me.
He’s not wrong.
She clearly admires me a good deal.
“But Gilles, you love me too, don’t you” I ask him evilly, intending to tease him a bit.
Gilles’s been getting a little too big for his britches recently.
He’s smirked at me all-knowingly one too many times for my tastes, so any chance I get to mess with him, I’ll take.
As expected, he stiffens a bit at my question.
But then soon after a huge smile spreads across his face.
“What a silly question,” he says earnestly, giving a tiny shake of his head.
Just from those words alone I know what what his answer really means.
I never thought he’d actually reply so seriously.
I switch my gaze from Gilles back over to Carol.
“Staying here any longer would be pointless.
“Okay!” she cries in cheerful excitement.
Her voice is no longer quavering as she talks to me.
The look in her eyes have also transformed into one of gleeful delight, almost as if she can’t believe this is really happening.
When I was younger, I’m sure I wouldn’t have bothered to help her…..
These are the thoughts that invade my head as we make our way to the dining hall’s exit.
Sure enough, the crowds of students part again to create a path for me to walk through as I approach them.
I really do feel just like a queen….
A wicked queen who just created quite the stir… I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
The moment we leave the dining hall, we run straight into Mel.
Did you cut your hair” She says the instant she makes herself visible to us.
Things just turned out that way.”
“It’s cute! You’re cute! Too cute! I’ve never seen anyone else who looked so amazing with a short do!” she babbles exuberantly, getting closer and closer to me as she speaks.
I can tell that she’s sincerely complimenting me right now, but seeing Mel’s expression, I somehow can’t feel all that happy about it.
“You’re running your mouth so much you’re drooling,” Gilles says to Mel, amazed.
But Mel seems not to hear him.
She just continues animatedly, “Ali-Ali! Your face is just so small! Like a tiny little button! And your features are so sharp and perfect! Beautiful girls with short hair are just the best!”
To think that Mel of all people would tell me I have a small face…..
Between us, I think Mel’s face is actually the smaller one.
And when is her excitement going to calm down
“Mel, that behavior is disrespectful towards Alicia-Sama,” Carol sniffs, glaring significantly in Mel’s direction, clearly unable to just watch our interaction anymore.
…..Hm Could these two be acquaintances perhaps
Mel’s gaze slides over to Carol, leaving me for the first time since she appeared.
Oh Who might this be.
Carol Is that you What’s gotten into your hair It looks awful.
But what are you doing with Ali-Ali What’s your relationship with her”
At the end, Mel’s tone had done a complete 180, becoming flat and cold, a stark contrast to how she had been talking to me just a moment earlier.
“How do you two know each other” I ask once Mel’s barrage had ended.
“She’s a distant relative of mine,” Carol answers immediately.
She just needs a wagging tail and I feel like she’d be the perfect picture of a loyal watchdog obeying her owner’s commands.
“Don’t go getting cocky just ’cause you’re a year older than me,” Mel says scowling at Carol.
……One year older If I recall, Mel should be 18….
Which means that Carol is 19 years old She’s four years older than I am But I….
haven’t been speaking very politely to her…..
She hasn’t really seemed to mind, so I guess it’s fine.
I glance towards Carol.
She isn’t looking at me though.
She’s currently locking eyes with Mel in a fierce stare-down. These two really must be on bad terms with each other.
Oh, but Mel did bring up a good point.
I should fix up that tragic hair for her.
While the two are still busy staring daggers at each other, I snap my fingers.
Instantly, Carol’s and my hair are looking trimmed to perfection.
Magic truly is such a wonderful convenience.
There’s no longer any need to go to a beauty salon.
“Your hair looks lovely now,” I tell Carol, smiling softly.
Truly, thank you so much! Mere words can’t express to you how happy I am–“
“Like I said, don’t get cocky,” Mel butts in, cutting off Carol’s heartfelt speech.
“You’re just jealous that Alicia-Sama used magic on my hair for me.”
“Huh Yeah right.
No way~ ‘Sides.
I’ve spent wayyyy more time with Ali-Ali than you.
Anddd, I’ve ran off with her once, too~”
Something like that did happen.”
Hearing our words, Carol’s face turns to one of shocked disbelief.
She looks positively horrified by the notion.
“Speaking of which, Mel.
What are you doing here” Gilles interrupts before Carol can start nagging Mel again.
Mel’s head swivels back to look purposefully at me, as if Gilles’s words had suddenly jogged her memory.
“Duke said, My hands are tied here at the moment, so go to the dining hall and check up on what’s happening with Alicia for me,” Mel says, casting her voice into a low, mock solemn tone.
“But by the looks of things, everything’s been taken care of already!” Mel finishes brightly.
I’m not quite sure if I would consider the situation resolved, but either way I’m relieved.
I’m thankful from the bottom of my heart that Mel wasn’t able to interfere.
If Jane and Mel had encountered each other in this sort of situation, that would have been pure chaos.
That’s way too much crazy all in one room…..