It was the time after Violette and Yulan first studied together.
Sitting next to Violette, studying while chatting, or doing it seriously was nothing else than bliss for Yulan.
Guiding without hesitation, a gaze caressed the smooth paper surface. A gesture of putting the head of the pen to her lips. A sequence of knitting her eyebrows and pouting, then changing into a beaming smile when solving the problem.
Resolute beauty. The innocence of a child who challenged a mystery. A bright smile solved the question.
Studying while looking sideways at Violette’s facial expressions made him feel like there was relaxing and encouraging background music. He’d like to have such a fun study session every day, even when it wasn’t during the test period. That way, he’d surely attain a perfect score for his grades.
“Hmm? Is there anything you don’t understand ?”
“...Yeah, I’d like you to teach me this.”
“That’s a trap, you see. If you read the task properly, you’ll see that the answer is there already.”
He pointed to a random task and turned Violette’s focus there. Obviously, he would never let her explanation go through one ear and out the other. While putting each word in his memory, he kept what he really wanted to hear right in his heart.
...Did Vio-chan have anyone who could teach her?
He didn’t have to hear the answer to know. He knew that Violette didn’t have many acquaintances among the third-years, and if she had to borrow test questions from someone… It was easy to imagine.
Needless to say, it was unpleasant to think of her having a study session with anyone but him. Still, even though Yulan could enjoy himself thanks to Violette, there was nothing he could give to her.
He had never regretted being younger than her as much as now. Tomorrow, he would probably want to be her classmate and praise his younger self. After all, the position Yulan wanted was the one that was in the most interest of Violette.
And now it was a time of envy. Since he was in the first grade, Violette could teach him, but he couldn't repay her.
Still, this fact made him feel sick as not doing anything at all did. Although he knew it was for the sake of Violette, he couldn’t just watch while doing nothing.
× × × ×
“What are you worried about?”
“You’re scary when you don't have any expression.”
Gia had most likely grasped the general reason behind his voice being empty of emotions and his eyes disgusted. At the very least, there was only one reason why Yulan would think so much he forgot to put on an expression.
“You’d frighten Violette if you had that expression in front of her.”
“There’s no reason for you to screw that up, right?”
“Is that so…”
It was during break, and there were few people in the classroom. He wasn’t sure if their eyes were anything to worry about, or even if he made an impression on them, there'd be no problem… it was probably the latter. It might be a surprise to those who knew the usual Yulan, but even that will be supplemented by gaps later on. He was gifted with that much popularity.
“So, what are you actually worried about? Did something happen to Princess?”
“Didn’t you stop calling her that?”
“Vio-Chan’s aura turns moody when I say it, you see… So whenever she isn’t here, I call her like usual .”
Yulan wasn’t aware of it, but the moment Violette’s nickname was used, his eyes turned harsh.
It was completely unconsciously, or rather even completely reflexive, but if it would make people stop, there wouldn't be any meaning in not doing it. It wasn’t like he allowed her to be called Princess, but it was better than his nickname for her, which only he used, was spoiled. Merely thinking about it aggravated him.
He might be narrow-minded, but Yulan's kindness had become completely swayed by Violette from the beginning, and he had no more intention of pressing Gia after such a long time. Or rather, doing it was futile.
“You wouldn’t have any acquaintances among the third-years… there’s none, huh.”
“At least listen to my answer. There’s none.”
“There’s no way you’re here when I’m not.”
Gia wasn’t completely convincing with this deep phrase. No, he was simply not interested.
Above all, Yulan’s words had been the truth.
It was easy to get involved with classmates and those in the same year because there are many opportunities to do so, but Gia was only frivolously attending school.
Yulan also had some complicated matters to some extent, but his “reasons” were still visibly smaller than Gia’s.
“I mean, I wonder how many were deceived by your outward appearance."
“I’m not fooling anyone. It’s just the other person's misunderstanding.”
“It’s all about how you say it, you know.”
“Isn’t it natural to flatter people to improve their first impression of you?”
“There are several ways to do it.”
The problem was probably that there was none with what he was doing. It was a waste of energy to tell someone who didn't have any intention of doing it properly.
Rather, it was more important to go back to the previous topic they deviated from.
“Does the third year have any?”
“Because there are exams soon.”
“...Rather, that's why it’s impossible to understand.”
Even Gia obviously knew there were going to be exams soon. Although he was frivolous and lively, he had a minimum score that a prince should keep, for the time being at least. How much of that Gia was conscious of was another matter, though.
The problem was that exam and the relation to him finding a third-year acquaintance.
Gia wore a cryptic expression and looked at Yulan as though he was stupid, but people who would know that were few.
Sighing exasperatedly, Yulan started explaining in a serious voice.
“I’m looking for someone to help Vio-chan with exam questions, but I don’t know anyone suitable.”
Originally, Violette had been the only one Yulan showed his affection for. Unlike his classmates, he wasn’t a kind person who would humor others.
Violette, who preferred to keep a distance from people, was famous in a different way from how Gia and Yulan were. She decided whether people were beneficial or an obstacle to her, and was prepared to eliminate anyone at any time.
In other words, all of Yulan’s acquaintances that were seniors were interested in Violette in some ways. Yulan couldn’t choose to allow such uncertain factors near his precious treasure.
However, that led to the most reliable existences to disappear together.
“...There’s no helping it huh.”
Gia frowned at Yulan muttering and then turning expressionless. Nonetheless, Gia knew from how long he had known Yulan that he would ignore him completely if he clung to his words.
Besides, he decided himself that he wasn’t the type that was in contact with eight people, fundamentally. It wouldn't be a problem as long as he didn’t touch the exception.
In the end, all Gia knew was that Yulan became confused after the study session with Violette.