Even If You Forget Me
It was the day where the ban on escort invitations was lifted.
Lucy had been busy with the ever persistent washing and drying cycle ever since the early morning. The scent of various different types of teas clung to her, and if you stayed around her for a little bit, you would notice a few different types of coffee mixed in as well.
Claudio appeared inside the courtyard during a break between classes when it was at its most tumultuous, and a combined blend of tea and coffee scented liquid poured on Lucy all at once. Lucy could bear it no longer and shouted out, “At least unify the smells!” while Ortensia coolly used magic to avoid any of it getting on her with but a single, “Mi~” —But of course as expected of Ortensia Rosedot, she was so overconfident of her abilities she completely missed a small portion that ended up splattered all over her shirt. A rage-induced round of shouting soon followed.—
“Thank you Ortensia.”
“I did it for Claudio, not you. An opponent who dumps cheap citrus smelling liquid on someone without even having the nerve to show themselves has no right to seek after a member of the royal family.”
Hmph! Ortensia turned her gaze away in a huff……….but she yelled out a loud, “Mi~!” and grabbed Lucy’s arm with a bright red face after seeing that Conrad was walking right behind Claudio.
Even though everyone’s eyes locked onto the two men when they first appeared, probably aware of their purpose in being here, it wasn’t too long before the crowd’s eye all shifted over to Lucy instead. There were numerous voices from the girl students calling Claudio’s name, but while he would normally play the kind student council president and wave to each of them in turn, this time he paid them all little mind. His eyes were intently scanning the crowd until he caught sight of Lucy and immediately started on his way towards her.
His usually calm demeanor was lacking now, and whether he was nervous or not, his expression looked pretty stiff at the very least. His gold hair shook with every step he took, but his blue eyes were glued straight ahead of him. He was looking at only a single person, and remembering that unexpected euphoria that had come when all of this had first started, Lucy patiently waited for his next words.
Claudio slowly pulled out his hand, and the entire courtyard quieted down with a hush. He took a deep breath trying to calm himself down before looking up again with a strong feeling in his eyes. Lucy looked directly back at him, matching his gaze.
“Lucy, would you attend this time’s party with me?”
Everyone in the courtyard suddenly gasped as the words left his mouth.
It was a reaction that left those in the know in puzzlement. Had everyone doubted the rumor that Claudio had given Lucy flowers that much? As the rather rude comments of, “No way,” and “It was true?” circulated around, the answer became apparent.
But Lucy wasn’t listening to any of the peanut gallery’s comments; she was still focused entirely on the boy standing in front of her. His blue eyes were asking for an answer. Even though he should already know the answer, he was still nervous and impatiently waiting for the word.
So Lucy made it clear,
“Well, of course.”
and gave him his answer. Claudio’s expression as he heard those words immediately brightened.
Lucy thought to herself about just how different those two expressions of his were, that look of nervous tension and dazzling excitement. The gap between the two and how quickly he could switch between them was cute, and it made Lucy smile.
It was embarrassing, but she was glad all the same. The burning flames of jealousy were something she no longer noticed.
“But, in front of everyone like this……”
“It’s good because it’s in front of everyone like this. We’re declaring to everyone that, ‘this is how it is.'”
“So that’s how it is?”
Claudio smiled and looked just a little mischievous while nodding to Lucy’s question.
It seems that those couples who have already been established will announce the fact clearly to drive away any would-be suitors, and they will oftentimes walk around the school campus to help spread the word. Watching those couples moving around and having fun this early on, those people who initially made the decision to wait feel rushed and work up the resolve to move now……..it is said that that sight will continue for awhile.
Thanks to the students who implicitly found a partner before the ban was even lifted, the students who have no partner are left in the type of situation where they are so focused on finding a partner that they tend to not listen during lessons. There are even those that will skip classes to give them more time to hunt a date down. The teachers hesitate to discipline these students as most of them were students of the academy before and tend to reminisce about their own dreams and stories during these parties……
Indeed, the teachers had rushed their last lessons to finish them up before the ban was lifted……was what Lucy muttered to herself. However, there was also a little malice in that tradition as they placed the end-of-term tests right before the test.
“Lucy, let’s go to the terrace. Tell me about what kind of dress you will be wearing.”
Information was needed for the sake of the suit that would be tailored, so Lucy took hold of Claudio’s hand and left the courtyard at his urging…..but for some reason Claudio stopped his feet right in front of the door leading to the terrace and began laughing to himself mischievously while turning his eyes back to where they were.
Lucy tried asking him about them going to the terrace, but he answered shortly, “One thing before that,” with an even stronger smile. Rather than a prince, he looked like a small child about to unwrap some birthday presents.
“You had better close your ears.”
Lucy tilted her head in complete confusion.
Whatever……she wanted to ask him more as the courtyard was still completely wrapped up in relative silence. She couldn’t find any sign of loud noise, so she followed his line of sight back to the center of the courtyard.
Conrad was there, standing in front of Ortensia. His face was as red as his hair, and Ortensia who was looking at him was just bright. Even from this far away, it was easy to tell that their blush had gone all the way up to their ears.
“Or-Lady Ortensia……….w-would you please let me escort you to the upcoming party?”
Conrad’s voice came out broken, and you could feel the tension there.
Meanwhile the surrounding audience was caught completely off guard and started to whisper among themselves as they all knew the social differences between Conrad’s Oxstein family and Ortensia’s Rosedot family. When you compare him to all of the other men who had invited Ortensia out before–especially when knowing what Ortensia had said about having already decided on a partner to go with–this invitation was seen as only a reckless stunt by the audience.
“Conrad is going for the daughter of the Rosedot house,” and “What, so he suddenly thinks he is suitable for a Rosedot lady because he is roommates with the prince?” were just some of the comments floating around.
However, all of those jeers and ridicule is completely misplaced. Lucy was aware, that was why when Conrad gave out his invitation, Lucy immediately covered her ears.
Ortensia’s face was dyed a deep red, but she was still able to softly convey her “Yes,” —She actually squeezed out a “Mi~” but that was a trivial difference here— and took Conrad’s hand. To be in love, she had her dress tailor-made to meet his specific preferences. It was the type of desperate measures that a fine noble lady would usually never resort to.
And it was a development that sent shockwaves through those watching. But what surprised Lucy most wasn’t that, it was what she saw floating overhead.
“Ah, it’s storybook magic.”
Claudio was the first one to say something after noticing what Lucy was quietly marveling at. When Lucy looked up into the sky, she saw a group of glittering and dazzling birds flying overhead.
Their bodies were clear and bright, colored as if they were a portal directly to the sky and sun. When they flew into a wall, they were sucked in, making it clear they were something made of magic rather than living things. This level of magic appeared to be unsurprising for students of Liztena Magic Academy, but even so, the birds flying in close to the ground and even a magical cat walking around through some nearby greenery was something to behold.
At least, it was for Lucy who could not stop watching.
“Who is going, and with whom you are going with, for some people this event can feel like something straight out of a storybook. It’s little events like these that make the party so exciting.”
“Isn’t someone just celebrating?”
So Lucy muttered while trying to pet the magical cat as it passed over a nearby table……..but Claudio grabbed her hand to stop her.
“The magic will disappear if you touch it.”
“Ah, sorry………that’s a little frustrating.”
Lucy watched the cat go as it flew over the table and passed into a wall with a mystified expression on its glass-like face. The end of its tail swayed a bit while it disappeared as if it were being sucked into the wall before Lucy turned her gaze back towards Claudio.
Her hand was still being held by his. His hands were large and wrapped tightly around her own. It didn’t hurt. On the contrary, it was warm and pleasant to the touch.”
“Lucy, let’s go to the party together.”
“Yes, let’s go.”
Having fun, Lucy laughed.
Wearing a fine tailor-made dress with Ortensia standing next to her, and having Claudio in a tailor-made suit there to escort her. It sounded like a dream. Lucy laughed again when she thought about having to practice her dancing for the event, and Claudio
He narrowed his eyes and nodded with a smile.
His hand tightened around hers like he was afraid she were about to run away. Gentle, strong, warm…..
“Lucy, I will come get you. Whatever happens.”
“Yes, in case you oversleep, or mistake the party date, or get lost in the forest,”
Claudio’s list of unlady-like things Lucy could do before the party started went on. A list that Lucy firmly objected to, “I won’t do that,”………….”Probably,” until she thought about it for a minute.