A month has passed since I enrolled.
Right now, Laura and I were having lunch at the cafeteria together. It’s been our everyday routine since the day after we enrolled.
Just as we originally guessed, neither of us was able to make friends.
As for me, it was naturally because of my age. A 26-year old adult in a classroom where the average age is 15 years old was way too unnatural.
I realized my classmates were fussing over my age, so it actually made me feel sorry for them instead.
As for Laura, it ended up being her lineage, after all. Just as Laura herself worried about, information about her origin has already spread around campus, so students were keeping their distance from her.
That’s why Laura and I do everything together.
…I’m already acquainted with her, and we have good compatibility. I don’t have any complaints in particular.
“This is pretty difficult.”
I muttered a few words.
“Did you want to make friends, after all?”
“…No, I don’t really care, but Laura needs some.”
Laura gave a bittersweet smile.
“I already told you. It’s impossible.”
Laura’s a good kid. If possible, I want her to live a regular, fun student life. It’d probably be better mentally for Laura to have friends her age than hanging around a gloomy guy ten years older than her.
“It’s fine! I didn’t think I’d be able to make a single friend, but I have Albert!”
“…I guess so… As long as you’re fine with me.”
“I’m fine with you!”
Laura smiled sweetly.
“That reminds me—you were 15 years old at one point as well, right?”
“Yeah. At the very least, I wasn’t 26 years old when I was born.”
“Did you have any friends during your student days?”
I flipped through the pages of my distant memory.
During my student days, I had a lot of friends just after I enrolled. I was the son of a marquis—that status fattened up my friend group.
However, they were all superficial.
Once they knew I was inferior as a magician—once they knew that rather than the incompetent older brother, but the superior younger brother had future prospects as the successor—they all vanished like a receding tide.
I had two friends that never abandoned me until the very end.
The day before the final test, the two encouraged me.
“It’ll be alright. I know that you’ve been working hard. Hard workers always get rewarded for their efforts at the very end, ya know?”
One of them was a male student named Lucard.
He was a young boy of nobility aiming to become a Magic Knight. He’s been practicing swordsmanship since childhood, so his body was two times larger than mine.
“Yeah, yeah! It’ll be 100% alright! You’ll make it this time for sure, Albert! Have confidence!”
The other one was a female student named Flin.
She was a petite girl with naturally curly hair that twist and turned, and she wore large glasses that protruded from her face.
The two never gave up on me until the bitter end.
They trusted me—I took their feelings and—
I threw away the faith they had in me and fled.
I felt pain travel through my chest.
I gave out a loud sigh.
“A-A-Ah! S-S-S-Sorry! Should I not have asked?”
“No… It’s fine… I had two friends—”
I had a thought once I used the word friends.
I wondered if it was alright for me to call them friends—I wondered if I had the right to call them my friends.
I wondered if they thought of me as their friend, even now…
It was at that moment.
“Ah, found you! You’re Laura, right?”
A woman wedged herself in.
I couldn’t get a good look at her since she was facing Laura, who was sitting opposite to me, but she was probably a faculty member based on her clothes. She was a petite woman with conspicuous, naturally curly hair.
“Yes, that’s me. Do you need something?”
“I want you to participate in tomorrow’s water quality examination as well!”
Laura was surprised.
The water quality examination—ever since this year, a large lake located in the kingdom seemed to be rapidly getting polluted. I hear the academy would be heading there to investigate, and that they’d be bringing along a few students as a field trip as well.
Naturally, the selection process wasn’t random.
You could tell at a glance just by looking at the lineup—they were all clearly the embodiment of the school’s expectations.
There were already competitions being started.
When Firvus handed out the list of participants around a week ago, Laura wasn’t included in it, though.
“There was a mistake in the list! I realized just now! When I thought of informing Firvus, he was on vacation! I know this is sudden, but are you fine with joining?”
“Huh…Y-Yes. I’m fine…?”
“Sorry! Here, take these documents!”
The woman pressed a sealed letter onto Laura with a thud.
I spoke to Laura.
“That’s wonderful, Laura.”
Laura was chosen—she was still included in the category of students with promise. Unlike me, she was brilliant. Laura had a place more worthy for her waiting for her. I was delighted that she was being recognized.
“Why are you speaking like this doesn’t involve you? You’re participating too, you know?”
After saying that, the woman looked in my direction.
She wore large glasses that protruded from her face.
An image overlapped on her face.
It was the image of the girl who was always with me ten years ago—
The girl in front of me seemed to be thinking the same. She looked at me with wide eyes as if she was paralyzed from head to toe.
“…Albert…? Is that really you, Albert? The age on the document matched, so I thought it could’ve been you, but I didn’t actually think…”
I knew who she was.
I knew her name.
That was her name.
After over ten years, I reunited with my old friend, who I abandoned at the academy ten years prior.
Today’s second chapter. Sorry for the delay. This one could’ve been better, so I’ll probably re-write it later. GN.