Sorry for the delay with this one. Some IRL things have been keeping me busy this week, but hopefully that’ll all disperse with the snow and cold soon.
“Come on, let’s go. Together”
Lucy sat in a chair wearing her dark purple dress in front of a mirror. Everyone would be dressed in fine clothing today, and Lucy was doing her best to not look off in comparison, tying her hair up at an incredible speed and topping it off with a hair ornament.
It was a relatively simple silver hair ornament, yet it sparkled when coupled with Lucy’s knitted purple hair. From the corner of the mirror, Lucy spotted Ortensia smiling at her and confidently nodding her head.
“Wear this together with your dress. Simple designs really do suit you best. Well, a commoner like you with no custom of decorating your hair probably wouldn’t understand.” Ortensia’s words from earlier ran through Lucy’s head. She had wanted to say something in response about how commoners had most likely made all those hair ornaments she was referencing, but Ortensia was at least correct that simplicity matched with the dress Lucy was wearing.
“Well, you are no diamond in the rough, but I shall allow you to attend the party alongside me!”
“Yes yes yes yes yes, thank you very much.”
“Why are the yes’s increasing!”
Mi~! Ortensia rose her voice in anger, but she still walked forward and took a place right next to Lucy.
She wanted to see herself in the mirror, so Lucy shifted herself to the side, and the two girls each wearing their dress was reflected in the mirror before them.
Ortensia was wearing a pale colored dress covered in floral decorations. Her gold hair was tied up with a ribbon, and a processed flower bauble hung brilliantly on her chest. She was also wearing a necklace that was originally unplanned, but it was a gift from Conrad that’s lustrous beauty had left Ortensia red in the face and mumbling, “Mi~ Mi~” for several minutes.
Standing next to that elegantly dressed noble lady was a girl wearing a dark blue dress. It was a simple dress that fit Lucy’s body line snugly. Her shoulders and neck were left completely exposed with her hair tied up like it was. The girl in question was complaining, “It’s cold,” but Ortensia completely wrote off her complaint with a sharp “Mi~”, instead directing her eyes to their window.
“…..what are you doing?”
“Nothing. So Lucy, let’s go play with Ril until the guys come to pick us up.”
Lucy gave Ortensia a frown knowing that playing in the woods while wearing a dress was obviously a bad idea, but Ortensia moved like a hurricane, grabbing hold of Lucy’s arm and dragging her out the door.
The end of term party is held in the widest facility in the academy.
This facility is large compared to even the school lecture halls, and if every student in the academy were to be inside, they would still have more than enough room to dance and enjoy themselves. It was apparently larger than most middle-class nobles’ residences.
Such a monstrous building was beautifully decorated for this day. In addition, a number of chefs and waiters had been gathered to try and maximize comfort and serenity for the students participating. The end of term party was something incomparable to even other parties of similar size, and it provided a level of luxury most students would never feel again after graduating.
Even a luxury party with this much clout behind it wasn’t enough to bother the daughter of a fine high noble household like Ortensia who was engrossed in petting Ril’s head. Meanwhile Lucy was too stunned to say much of anything by this tremendously decorated building that you would never guess belonged to an educational institution.
“Aren’t you too nervous over a party of only this level? It’s a common thing when attending parties with me in high society.”
“But I’m not going with you, I’m going with Claudio. You’re going with Conrad.”
Lucy made a wry smile as Ortensia began shaking from nervousness at the mere mention of Conrad’s name.
But then, “You are trying to make me make a fool of myself!” her angry shout echoed in the forest before she once again started scratching underneath Ril’s chin.
“Ril, have you been good?”
Lucy soon put out her own hand, and as she scratching the tip of Ril’s nose, the dragon narrowed his eyes. The cat-like gesture would surprise people not in the know. And although Lucy couldn’t remember, it was something that made her heart ache from nostalgia.
The school headmaster had prepared the lands behind the school for Ril to live. It’s not enough that he can run around freely, but he wouldn’t have any difficulties living there either. He has been allowed to fly through the sky recently since he has been ruled as a subspecies of bird, and the academy had decided to take responsibility for managing him.
There had been people recently who had come up to Lucy asking questions, not just the country’s scholars but other students as well. Lucy had offered to let these students see Ril. Every single one of them had been too afraid to even approach him, but as time went on, Lucy was able to convince them to take a step forward and eventually even pet him.
The rumors of how bloodthirsty and dangerous dragons are quickly died away. There were apparently not many students in the school taken with the romance of ancient tales, and with how harmless and friendly Ril really was, those people that did enjoy the stories quickly cast them away wanting to see and pet Ril themselves. Although everyone would turn back without touching him the first time they’d visit.
“Ril is a good child, so everyone will come to love him soon. Right Ril, Mi~ Miii~”
“Even though you were so nervous to touch him in the beginning”
“Well what about it? Lucy is just jealous of my and Ril’s close relationship. Mi, Mi, Mi~”
Ortensia started squeezing Ril’s cheeks, repeating her Mi’s at him, and Ril in turn started purring and replying with a few nya’s.
It came out to be quite the sight. The two of them were talking intermittently, going “Mi~” then “Nya”, and then another “Mi~” followed by another “Nya”. It was almost like they were talking to each other in some strange language…….no, they might have actually been talking to each other. Lucy began to get a little worried, watching the both of them go at it while continuing to cuddle up to Ril’s head.
Then after the two of them had played around with Ril for quite a while,
a couple of voices grabbed their attention.
In retrospect, they should have let Claudio and Conrad know where they were going to be before venturing off into the forest. The two of them had found them well enough, but the time they had all agreed to meet each other had long passed.
The clothes the two men were wearing weren’t their ordinary capes or robes, but a suit tailored for this very night.
Claudio was wearing a simple navy blue tuxedo that matched Lucy’s dress well. There was a single silver decoration adorned on his chest that drew the eye. His cuffs were in plain view and gave the illusion of changing how ruffly it was as he walked.
Conrad contrasted him, wearing some red ornaments over a black suit. It had a showier design to match with Ortensia’s ribbons and flowers, but most conspicuous of all was a pin he wore on his chest that matched the necklace he had given Ortensia.
Lined up the two of them looked like they were from a painting, and both girls began to act squirrely as they walked up to their respective partners–Claudio to Lucy and Conrad to Ortensia.
“I figured you’d be here.”
Claudio laughed, and Lucy could feel her cheeks get hot.
Today he was looking exactly like a prince. Of course Lucy always did think he looked like a prince–he has always been the second prince too–but right now the phrase, “Like a prince,” was suiting him too well. Claudio looking like this was a cowardly tactic, Lucy muttered in her heart.
She wanted to look at him, but she was too embarrassed to do so. Just raising her face a little made her heart speed up and her chest tighten. Actually looking at him again might be more than she could manage.
In response Claudio put his hand on her shoulder, and all she could say was a jumbled, “Um, well……”
“You’re so beautiful……. Raise your face, I want to see you properly.”
With his whispered words, Lucy wondered how anybody would be able to refuse.
Lucy couldn’t at least, and she slowly raised her head while trying to repress her rampant heart.
Claudio’s golden hair shook slightly, and his blue eyes were staring at her lovingly. When she thought to herself that this look was because of her, because of how beautiful he thought she was dressed up, her heart began to squeeze again. It was memories like this that made her want to never use magic again.
“That, p-please don’t stare too much…….that, this is, I’m not used to it…….”
“I-I see. Sorry…..w-well then…..”
Claudio took something out of his bag and quickly hung it over Lucy’s shoulders.
It was a stole.¹ Made from transparent sheer lace, it looked beautifully stitched together and glittered like a starry night sky. Its beautiful colors blended well with the dress Lucy was wearing.
It hung loosely off Lucy’s shoulders, but she was quickly mystified by its touch. She stroked the cloth, marveling at how soft and warm it was despite how it was transparent and how thin the fabric was. It perfectly protected her shoulders and neck of the evening wind.
“Claudio, this is?”
“It’s just something I got for you in the spur of the moment since it matched your dress. If you would, please accept it as a thank you for allowing me to escort you to the dance.”
“T-thank you very much……..”
Lucy’s grip on her new stole tightened as she looked back into Claudio’s warm, loving eyes.
It was so warm despite how thin the lace was. Was it because the stole was obstructing the wind, or was it really because of how hot her chest was getting from the pleasure she felt at his care………?
There was no way for her to figure out the answer to her question as she moved her hand to her cheek and realized just how warm that was right now as well.
Meanwhile, the low sound of a bell from the direction of the school caused everyone to look up.
It was the bell that informed the students that the party had officially started. Apparently the two young couples had gotten so wrapped up in their own conversations that they had completely lost track of the time.
With that noise of the bell still echoing through the evening air, Claudio got down on one knee and presented out a hand.
“Please, your hand”
His words and appearance, they really were like a prince from a fairy tale. The prince was formally offering himself as an escort.
Lucy was starting to feel giddy at the dazzling sight in front of her, as if Claudio had a bright, twinkling light illuminating him at his back, but at the same time she hesitated and looked around to see what she was supposed to do.
At her side then, she saw Conrad kneeling down in the same way.
Ortensia was standing before him of course, wearing a large sheepish grin, and placed her hand in his. Truly the daughter of the Rosedot family, she had the appearance of a fairy tale princess. Indeed, Lucy was convinced on what she was supposed to do…..
But in the next moment, probably wondering why nothing was happening, Claudio raised his face to see Lucy watching the other two and,
made a devilish grin.
In response Lucy made a gasp like she was offended, and instead of grabbing his hand like she was supposed to, she took both her hands and started squishing his cheeks to punish him. But from the corner of her eye, she could still see Ortensia’s pleased face, so Lucy bent down, whispering, “Please,” in Claudio’s ear before finally taking his hand.
1. Between the three stories I’ve translated, the amount of information I have learned about different types of clothing is unreal.