School Arc – Chapter 11
The final lesson of that day finished up and we were dismissed inside the classroom. While slowly tidying up the used sewing tools, I breathed out a sigh. Rather than a sigh of sorrow, the sigh I made put across the meaning of ‘I wish I could get this over with’.
（Today’s afternoon lesson has been... an ordeal）
Packed full after filling my stomach from lunch, my body, following instincts, made it clear that it needed rest that afternoon.
Frankly speaking, I was sleepy. I was dying to take an afternoon nap.
No one called me out on my behaviour of constantly nodding off, so being dismissed without incident was deeply moving for me.
This school carried out theoretical lessons entirely in the morning, but, I think the schedule is pretty reasonable.
If theoretical lessons had been conducted in the afternoon, I don’t think I could’ve avoided an afternoon nap, given the lullaby that was the teacher’s voice.
（But strangely enough, now that the lessons are over, things like drowsiness are now somehow being blown off...）
‘I guess whether it be this world or Japan, some things never change’, I mused, buried in my thoughts.
It was then that the clattering sounds of hurried footsteps, from the direction of the corridor, came in.
「Lycoris-oneesama! It’s Arutad-kun!」
「At the courtyard!」
This tacit understanding was, sad to say, due to the bygone days we were made to be accustomed to from the turmoils that Art had raised.
The girl, who’d been so bold as to run towards an upperclassmen classroom, was someone who got along well with one of Art’s followers in the same year as him, and one of the girls whom I instructed to inform me if anything happened.
I listened to her account as we headed towards the courtyard.
According to her, during this afternoon’s lessons, Art and several others in his entourage didn’t show up, making her suspicious. After that, just as lessons were over, since that one person in Art’s entourage had been acting sneakily, she shadowed that person, and from what she said, the follower attempted contact with Lily.
「I didn’t quite manage to catch what they were talking about, but after that, the two of them headed towards the courtyard together. They met up with Arutad and his friends there, and since it felt somehow very ominous, I decided to notify you, Onee-sama...」
「Thank you. That was very helpful」
Though, I’d prefer the use of『Onee-sama』to stop during strained circumstances, on this occasion, I closed my eyes to it.
With the courtyard’s greenery coming to view, I gave a sigh of relief seeing Lily standing face-to-face with Art and his group. It looks like a fight hasn’t broken out yet.
But, once I came closer, I noticed that something was strange with Lily. She stood there stock still, both hands over her chest, staring at a particular spot.
Followed the destination of that gaze, I unconsciously stopped in my tracks, feeling a dizzying case of deja vu.
The destination of Lily’s gaze.
On top of the piled up soil, was a rod erected ostentatiously.
While feeling the color drain from my face, I stared at the 『gravesite』.
「... why... did you....」
When Lily formed those words with such difficulty as to be strained, Art’s derisive laughter came around.
「I thought I’d make you learn your place as a commoner. Of course, the reason the bird became a sacrifice was because you didn’t have any other friends. Funny, huh~」
Though this line was horrible and also unpleasant, it was as it had been in the game. I feel like the animal killed in the game was definitely not a bird, but aside from that, the rest was all the same.
（But, this event was supposed to take place much, much later...）
I thought as if explaining it in my mind.
Inside the game, there was certainly a scene where Art killed an animal that Lily was affectionate with. At that time, this was also how it went, him thrusting a flashy-made grave before Lily.
Something like he couldn’t forgive Lily getting attached to someone else, was the sort of reason he gave.
But in this stage, where Art and Lily’s relationship wasn’t even close to acquaintances, such a cruel thing shouldn’t have happened. No, it didn’t happen in the game.
But in reality, before my eyes was a small grave. The tip of the shovel was left as it was, affixed horizontally on the soil. At the side, a hole that appeared to have been dug up just a moment ago was... mh?
Even as I was stuck in thought, Lily, who finally remembered to move, staggered closer to the grave. The overlooking Art jeered as she softly reached out a hand to that lump of soil.
「Don’t tell me, you’re trying to dig it up? You really want to be face-to-face with a messed up friend? Uwaa, what bad tas~te」
Lily drew back her hands with a frightened jolt. During that recoil, the accumulated tears at the edge of Lily’s bright green eyes trickled down.
With that, my last bit of patience ran out.
I walked up to Art in long strides, having forgotten even my manners, and before a slightly flustered Art could say anything, I slapped him on the cheek with all my might.
With a loud slap, a nice, satisfying sound was made as my palms felt the throb of pain.
I thought he’d hit me back in the heat of the moment, but Art simply stared at my face with his mouth open in dumbfoundment, ‘idiot’ written all over his face.
Including the spectators, everyone here went dead silent.
That’s right, the courtyard, to an extent, was a place that can be conspicuous. Seeing that such a commotion happened at the courtyard, the fact that Art had picked Lily as a bullying target must have already circulated to the entire student population by now. It’s likely that this will induce others to bully her. And of course, he probably did it knowing that would happen. To my annoyance, Art was a boy that was capable of such calculation.
I was in a rage, but my thoughts were composed. Virtually prepared to contend with Art, I looked for allies amongst the spectators.
The first to remember to move, was that one person in Art’s entourage. Really, what a completely useless watchdog he was.
「Y-you’re mistaken, Lycoris-sama! We never caught the bird in the end, this grave – we only piled up soil to trick her!」
In the end, he gave an explanation to something that I’d rather be left unsaid.
Lily probably didn’t notice with all the commotion, but the fact that a hole was right there beside the grave was a little strange. Generally speaking, the normal sequence was to first dig a hole, put the corpse in, then cover it with soil from the top.
Not only that, catching a wild bird, no matter how accustomed to Lily it was, was still a difficult task. Making a fake grave then using it to scare her seems more likely.
「Lily, it’s just as you heard. That little bird is most likely fine」
Lily raised her face, taken aback.
「Yes. Go and find the bird. I’ll manage this somehow」
Lily nodded at my words, then ran off towards the forest where the little lapis lazuli-colored bird was likely located.
「S-since you made a mistake, apologize! Getting hit is really painful! 」
When Art shouted at me from behind, I looked at him over my shoulder.
「A mistake? You were planning to kill the bird, weren’t you?」
「That’s right, but we told you we couldn’t do it in the end, didn’t we! That woman just got tricked because she was stupid enough not to find anything fishy about it」
「I completely understand it now」
This time, I intended to hit Art’s cheek with clenched fists. Because I knew it was my own indulgence that I ended up unconsciously slapping him earlier.
But, sure enough, the second time, even Art didn’t resign to accept getting hit. Since Art seized my wrist, in close range, I simply glared at him.
「I thought even you would mature a little bit if I persistently nagged at you, but my outlook was too naive. In these three years, you really didn’t grow up at all. Being in charge of educating you is really impossible for me」
Declaring it vehemently as I faced him, Art, as always, uttered the same thing he usually did.
「『Why』, you ask? Until you understand, don’t speak with her or me. I won’t forgive you. Especially if you give Lily an apology that doesn’t come from the heart」
Once I declared those words, a large shadow obstructed my field of vision. Since I quickly realized it was Wolf, I breathed out a sigh of relief.
After Wolf twisted Art’s arm pretty violently for me, he held out a handkerchief for me.
I thought it was because I looked like I was about to cry, but in reality, my eyes were already brimming with tears. It wasn’t something I’d brag about.
「Wolf, could I leave Art to you? I’d like to find Lily」
「No, let’s go together」
Since Wolf insisted, we eventually left Art to the care of a teacher nearby and headed to the forest to follow Lily. However, even though our time difference wasn’t too big, Lily was nowhere to be found.
Afterwards, we assembled a group of people to search for Lily, but it was only after even night had wore on that we found her.
With an exhausted face, she came back aimlessly to the dormitory and ended up sleeping, almost as if she’d blacked out.
She kept sleeping for nearly a whole day after that.
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