Snow is so beautiful until the hypothermia kicks in. #ItsTooCold #SnowIsThedevil #SomebodyGetMeSomehHotChocolateBeforeThisNegativeFiftyDegreeWeatherMakesMeTakeASnowNapRatherThanADirtNap
“……..Eh, Exchange Diary!?”
The venue was already crowded by the time Lucy and the others arrived, and the sound of the orchestra beautifully reverberated off the walls without being so loud that it hindered conversations between students. The students who usually wore matching capes or robes were dressed in a rainbow of colors today, and all over there were groups and couples smiling, laughing, and dancing together.
Even in such a place, as Lucy walked into the room, the general bustle quieted down, and a number of eyes focused right on her. Part of it was because of who she was there with, but there were a number of people whose attentions were taken by how beautiful she looked tonight.
Everyone was wearing their hearts on their sleeves, blatantly displaying their jealousy or interest, Lucy started to feel uncomfortable and just a little afraid. Ortensia on the other hand looked around at all the eyes focused on them and made a satisfied nod with a beaming smile spread out.
“This extent is trivial. They could stand to pay even more attention to us.”
“Is that so? I guess I should say as expected of Ortensia.”
Lucy sighed as Ortensia continued to show off her pride.
And as for the two escorts standing beside the women still holding their hands,
“What are you talking about Conrad, as the man escorting Ortensia, you need to keep your back straight.”
they were showing the exact opposite reaction from their dates.
The difference in their reactions was natural. After all one group was comprised of the countyr’s second prince and the daughter of the high noble Rosedot family, so let alone a room full of kids, an entire country’s worth of people were keeping their eyes on them. Meanwhile the other group was the son of a dirt-poor noble house only slightly better than a commoner’s house and a young girl who had no idea what station in life her family had had. Yet Conrad still took Claudio’s words to heart and straightened himself up while firmly grasping Ortensia’s hand in his.
“Lady Ortensia, let’s take a look around the venue. …….J-just the two of us.”
Having worn only a proud expression so far, Ortensia had quickly deteriorated into having a simple sheepish smile and shining eyes as she nodded her consent to Conrad’s proposal.
The way she pulled on Conrad’s hand forward was exactly like a girl in love. The surrounding looks that were all displaying their satisfaction could no longer reach her as she was staring spellbound at only Conrad.
The surrounding voices, “So unbalanced,” and “Why Conrad?” fell on deaf ears as Ortensia passed all of them by without a sideways glance.
Lucy turned her eyes on Claudio who was watching those two go. Would he also inviter me to go somewhere…..and as if to embrace those expectations, those blue eyes of his suddenly turned and locked with Lucy’s gaze.
Would he invite me to the decorated garden outside or would we take a seat somewhere and quietly talk just the two of us. What should I do if he invites me to dance? I can’t dance, but would it turn out okay if he led?
Lucy was gazing at Claudio expectantly, and understanding this, Claudio gave a confident nod,
“I know, you can go eat whatever you want,”
and he smiled.
“Claudio, at such times, I too like to enjoy the mood……
“Eh!? O-oh really”
“It’s fine, I’ll go eat. I’ll even leave some cake for you after I’m done gorging myself.”
“I was bad Lucy; I’m sorry so please don’t pout…… Darn, your hair’s tied together, so it’s difficult to pat your head today.”
Claudio tried to calm Lucy down like usual with his usual *pon* *pon*, but with Lucy’s hair all tied up, he became confused on what he should do to make up for his teasing. Lucy held back a mischievous smile and took a step away from him, loosening her grip as if she were about to let him go.
He was apologizing with a bitter smile, admitting he was bad, and despite how he was dressed, Lucy thought he looked cute pleading like this. Her teasing, rebellious exterior quickly broke apart, and thinking that she didn’t have a choice, she tightened her grip around his hand once more.
When she loudly told him she wasn’t going anywhere, a color of relief crossed his face.
“Well then, would you join me for a song?”
“………I’ll have a little cake before that.”
“I see you still have no confidence in your dancing.”
Claudio laughed and began smiling as Lucy tried to escape, and he held her hand tighter to prevent her from leaving for real.
She eventually muttered, “All right,” and dropped her line of sight to her feet. Lucy did it out of habit to try and prepare herself for the inevitable embarrassment, but when she did look down at the ground, she noticed Claudio’s shoes shimmering for just a moment. There was magic used, although she didn’t know what kind it was. Lucy turned her gaze up towards the obvious culprit.
“I strengthened my shoes.”
“In preparation for being stepped on. So, let’s go.”
So please go ahead and step on them, was what Claudio was laughing about as he pulled her along by the hand.
Lucy meanwhile started scolding him, calling him disrespectful, but it was a fact she wasn’t confident with her dancing. Yet she still moved to the center of the venue despite her grumbling, resigning herself to her fate.
There were several couples already there, showing off a brilliant dance to the music being played.
As what could be expected from Liztena Magic Academy, each of the students were enjoying themselves dancing in a way that calling it ‘elegant’ would be exhaustive.
Each of those students stopped their feet and turned their heads when Claudio got close. The girl students were all looking past their respective partners, showing their obvious envy, but even the men were pouring their gazes onto Lucy, looking her up and down. A swirl of two different types of discomfort started to crawl up her back.
I wonder if I should go eat some cake after all…….she started seriously thinking.
“Claudio, I really stepped on your foot.”
“I don’t mind. Look, just slowly follow along with my movements.”
Claudio moved his legs along with the music. Lucy tried moving her legs as prompted, but her body kept moving strangely as a result.
As expected of Claudio Barek, the women were all marveling at his ability to lead. But their dissatisfaction quickly returned when they saw Lucy’s legs stumbling and her feet stomping on his shoes. His lead was inspired and flowed well with the music, yet her feet continued to screw it up.
Because the magic was still effective, his shoes were much harder than it looked, and it should prevent him from feeling any pain if it is stepped on lightly. In the first place, even if you were to say she was stepping on his feet, it was only to the extent that it looked like a mistake from the side.
“Lucy, what’s wrong?”
“You sure are good at leading.”
“…..No way, are you jealous!?”
Lucy was just giving him some sarcastic praise, but her words had a larger shock on Claudio than Lucy thought they would. And his sudden response made Lucy look back up and see a pleased smile spread across his face.
Claudio is the second prince, and it was clear by how things had been going that he had danced hand in hand with many women up until now.
This was something that should have been expected, and Ortensia was always talking about how she was, “jealous of those who could dance in high society,” in reference to the other high nobles. —Despite being the daughter of the prestigious Rosedot family, she had never danced with anyone else before as she had wanted her first dance to be with Conrad.—
But it was the type of thing that made Lucy jealous even though she was aware of it. She did not know who these people were, and she didn’t know Claudio at this time, so she knew it was meaningless to get jealous of these women who danced with him.
Lucy was indifferent to her past, so she had never thought she would end up jealous over someone else’s past.
Lucy shrunk back and quietly apologized, but that just made Claudio’s smile strengthen all the more.
Mumbling something about him not being able to bear it, his mouth loosened, his eyes narrowed sharply, and his nostrils flared. As he stared into her eyes, Lucy’s face started to get red. She reached out her hands and lightly grabbed his cheeks, kneading his loose face and ignoring the, “I can’t bear how cute you look jealous,” that was coming out of his lips.
“Your face looks sloppy.”
“What are you saying? It’s Lucy’s fault.”
Claudio was making a smug smile that made Lucy frown.
Of course she wasn’t angry, but it was a little frustrating that during this whole exchange Claudio was able to continue to elegantly guider her through the dance. Occasionally he would move his arm to her waist to show her what direction they would be moving next, and his longer legs would always adjust to match her stride and prevent her from tripping up. Even the most inexperienced of dancers could move like a star with Claudio leading them around like a small puppy.
His ability to lead was natural and bordered perfection, but being able to dance just as you are prompted was fun. Thinking that, Lucy’s scowl gave way to another smile, and her hand rose to her chest out of habit.
There was no need to be jealous of the past. From now on, he will only be dancing with me…..
And as Lucy accidentally muttered her thoughts aloud, Claudio’s grin became wider and wider. He looked like a fool smiling like that, but Lucy didn’t have the heart to say anything about it.
“Lucy, do you see? No matter how many times you forget, you’ll be fine if I’m your dance partner.”
“Yes, I suppose so. If I ever do forget again, be sure to take me out like this again.”
Lucy’s smile was bright as she looked into Claudio’s eyes, and he was smiling in turn, eyes half closed as he slowly brought his face closer in……
“You must not act so shamelessly!”
Claudio was made to stop by Ortensia’s shrill scream.
His expression went sour, but rather than the culprit, he reared his hostile gaze on her partner. “Conrad…..” Even though he was only growling Conrad’s name, his intent was clear enough. “Why did you let Ortensia come around right at the good part?”
But this was obviously undue resentment. Ortensia had seen the two of them get close from the other side of the venue, and she charged through the crowd like a rhino and separated Lucy and Claudio with her arm as if it were a guillotine that went *Mi~* rather than *Whoosh*.
With that being said, interactions with too much intimacy were banned during a party held by the academy, so Claudio wasn’t able to do anything else beside sigh.
“Ortensia, about this party…….”
“No, no! Male and female acquaintanceships must begin with an exchange diary!”
“Uwa, what a straight-laced girl.”
“Unless it’s a political marriage!”
“Why is it only one of two extremes?”
Lucy left the dance floor for the time being alongside Ortensia who was continuing to yell, “Mi~” “Mi~”.
Claudio obviously followed after them. His hands stealthily moved towards Lucy’s waist and pulled her closer to him, but it had luckily escaped Ortensia’s sight. Feeling a little daring, Claudio leaned closer to her, and “Later,” whispered into Lucy’s ear.
Lucy’s cheeks turned a vibrant crimson and a small smirk came about as she wondered whether Conrad would be able to handle things this third time.