Hey, so this delay is basically due to me as expected. Kudos to the new TL on always getting their work done. In fact, seeing how much less work it is to just spend an hour doing TLC for his chapters, I almost wanna just retire into that position at this point. Hahaha. Anyways, Enjoy!
“Just what… Is going on here?”
Everyone was silent towards Lilia's question. Even Kris awkwardly averted her gaze and looked elsewhere. When Lilia turned her eyes towards her two followers, they shrunk back, trembling.
“It has nothing to do with you.”
Seemingly unable to endure the silence, Kris spoke. Lilia glanced over at her, and nodded in agreement.
“True. And what I decide to do is none of your business either.”
As Kris was tilting her head at Lilia's sudden declaration, Lilia made her way over to Sera. She stood in front of her desk and called out.
Sera jumped at hearing her full name called and quivered in her seat. She timidly peered at Lilia's face. Expressionless and calm, Lilia looked down at Sera.
“We need to talk. Come with me.”
“Eh… Umm, to where…?”
Sera asked with fear in her eyes. Lilia felt a tinge of irritation.
“Does it really matter? Just come with me already.”
Sera sprung up from her seat hearing the coldness in Lilia's words. Lilia began walking, and Sera after her.
“Well then, everyone, have a good day.”
When Lilia said those words with a smile as she bid them farewell, everyone in the cla.s.sroom couldn't help but stiffen their expressions in unison.
Lilia brought Sera back to her room at the dorm. They sat down at a table facing each other. Full cups of black tea were set in front of them, which Lilia had tasked Alisa with preparing beforehand.
In the middle of the table was dorayaki bought from the south side. They weren't exactly the best pairing for black tea, but Sakura kept pestering Lilia about how she wanted to taste them again so Lilia had them brought out here. These were in fact brought over just yesterday by Tina when she'd come to visit.
Lilia picked up a dorayaki and took a bite, indicating with her hand for Sera to help herself as well. Sera, while perplexed by all this, still reached out to take one and put it in her mouth.
“…! It's, really good…”
“Right? This is a confection from the southern district. They're one of my new favourites.”
Sera looked on in wide-eyed surprise at hearing about the southern district. Though Lilia found it laughable that it could be shocking to such a degree, she herself would probably have had the exact same reaction if she had heard that some other upper cla.s.s n.o.bles had gone to the southern district.
“Well then, Sera. It's about time we get to the main topic.”
With Lilia beginning the real conversation, Sera quietly closed her eyes, and nodded. Straightening her back, she went to look straight into Lilia's eyes in seriousness.
“Sera, what is that you plan to do from here on?”
“I was thinking of returning back home.”
Her answer was just as expected.
“For all the trouble that I have caused you, Miss Lilianne, please accept my deepest apologies.”
Sera deeply lowered her head. Seeing that display, Lilia gave a scornful laugh.
“So basically, you're going to run away. How disappointing.”
“For you… To be saying that…”
Sera's eyes narrowed, but she soon came back to herself with a start, and lowered her head once again. Lilia felt there was quite enough of the head lowering already, but she decided to let her do as she pleased.
“I spoke rashly. My humblest apologies.”
Rashly, so she says, but that was probably just her real feelings leaking out. The one who drove Sera to this point was Lilia after all. What's more, there was that incident where Lilia did in fact run away from the Prince herself, becoming a shut-in. That was probably where her words stemmed from. However, Lilia ignored all of that. Sticking to calling the kettle black, she looked coldly at Sera.
“No matter what anyone says, the fact that you have chosen the option to run away will not change. Or perhaps, are you planning on coming back again afterwards?”
At that question, Sera weakly shook her head, as one would expect. Lilia felt like she could, ever so slightly, understand what Sera was feeling. She herself was someone who had run away, and if not for Sakura, she likely wouldn't have ever come back to the academy again. Although, according to that ‘story' of Sakura's, going back to the academy did indeed happen to her.
“So you don't intend to remain at this academy?”
“No… Honestly, I cannot endure it. I've come to realise that during this one week.”
That was quite understandable. Though Lilia had only seen her situation during lunchtimes, it would definitely take something else to withstand being so thoroughly ignored. It was, in a sense, even harsher than simply getting hara.s.sed.
“Well then, Sera. I wonder if you have any intention of taking the third option.”
“The… Third option?”
“Yes, Sera. You, shall become one of my people.”
Not understanding Lilia's declaration, Sera tilted her head.
“Though it's not like I'm telling you to become my maid, or anything. In a certain sense, it would be like going back to how we were before all this. Following under me, and abiding by my orders. All the while, you would come under my protection. That's not such a bad deal, is it?”
“That… Would be quite advantageous for myself, but… How is there anything in this for you, Mistress Lilianne? In any case, I do not see any reason for you to take in someone regarded as an enemy of His Highness. And I am certain that the other two would happily take on this same offer…”
“I have no need for something like that.”
Sera's expression cramped up upon hearing that. Up until recently, she had been in the exact same boat as the other two, and she never expected to hear that they were actually unnecessary. Putting it that way, it was like her whole school life up until now had been denied at its very core. But of course, it was them who had chosen to cling to Lilia, so they had no right to blame her, either.
“I have no need for someone who could betray me at any point. And regarding that, you no longer have anyone you can rely on other than me. There would be no way for you to betray me. One couldn't ask for a more convenient chess piece.”
Lilia let out a vulgar laugh. Sera's face paled in response to this, but she did not deny it.
“However, His Highness has it out for me at the moment.”
“Oh my, is that really a problem? There's no need to worry about that kind of guy, at all.”
That kind of talk would definitely get you punished for lese majeste outside of the academy. Sera's eyes went wide, and then, she let out a wry smile.
“I'd been under the impression that all of this might have been a plan to get back with His Highness, but those words just now were your true feelings huh.”
“Get back with His Highness? Me? Please don't say that even as a joke, it's quite disgusting.”
“Mistress Lilia, perhaps that might be a bit much.”
Alisa, who was standing at the ready behind Lilia, finally felt she couldn't look on anymore and chided her lady to mind her words bit more. Lilia simply shrugged, and responded that she'll be more careful. Sera looked on at this exchange with great interest.
“You seem quite close even though she is your maid.”
“Well, it's not as if there's a rule against being close with your servants or anything.”
“Yes, I suppose so.”
Sera let out a relaxed laugh, but very quickly returned to a serious expression. She looked directly into Lilia's eyes, as Lilia returned her gaze. Without a trace of mirth, she asked seriously.
“Mistress Lilianne, is it really alright? It may be strange coming from me, but as I am now, I believe I am no more than a liability.”
“Well, I certainly don't think so. Right now, I am asking you to come under my command. Make a decision already and give me your answer.”
As Lilia began to feel a tinge of irritation and strengthened her tone, Sera immediately bowed before her. It was to apologise, as well as,
“I shall be under your care, Mistress Lilianne.”
“Very well. Best regards.”
Hearing Sera's words, a satisfied smile rose up on Lilia's face.
We shall see about that all-out confrontation with Kris.