Laura quietly gasped, but she didn’t say a word.
I continued my story indifferently.
“Just like I said before, I can’t use anything but Magic Arrow. The academy wouldn’t recognize a student like that. Just before the final exam, which would set my expulsion in stone—I got cold feet and fled from the academy.”
I still remembered it to this day.
That night road. The night which submerged the royal capital in darkness, as I ran with my luggage in tow, crying by my lonesome.
I felt bitter emotions rekindle in my chest.
“My father didn’t forgive me, not after I ran back home. I haven’t told you yet, but my parents are nobility—marquises, that is.
She must’ve been surprised by the news, as she widened her eyes in shock.
I continued to force the words out of myself.
“The son who fled back home from the academy—a mere stain. My father reprimanded me and banished me from the household. You probably remember that house I was living in, right? That was prepared for me by my father.”
“I, the eldest son, was expelled from the house. Nevertheless, that didn’t cause much of a problem, given that my household had an outstanding second son. He really is a brilliant guy… As of now, he’s serving as the Supreme Commander for the lizardman extermination force.”
“Wait, that means—”
“Alencia Luminous—that’s the name of my younger brother.”
Thereupon, Laura looked like she realized something.
“…If I’m not mistaken, you were invited by Lihilt to ‘meet the Supreme Commander’, right…?”
“…Yeah. I reunited with my younger brother Alencia there.”
I quietly chuckled.
I must’ve had a depressed look on my face.
“It wasn’t the most touching meeting. Alencia said it himself: ‘Nice to meet you, Albert.'”
She spoke in a sharp tone, which was out of the ordinary for Laura.
“That’s just too much! To his older brother, no less! How… how dare he say such a thing!”
“I don’t blame him. To him, I’m the stain of his household.”
I responded like so.
What Alencia said indeed came as no surprise to me.
However—it turns out there was a part of me that was shocked by his words as well.
I hoped there was even the slightest chance, clinging to a less than 1% possibility—
It’s been a while, brother. I’m delighted to see you’re doing well.
—that he would say those words to me.
I shook my head.
“…All sorts of unpleasant memories from the past came flooding back when I reunited with my brother and stuff, which is why I’ve been depressed.”
Once I finished telling her everything—
I was a little scared of what Laura would say next.
I’m a hopeless person who fled from the academy and was expelled from my house.
The type of person who couldn’t help but be hated by Laura—
Laura breathed a deep sigh.
She breathed like she was relieved from the bottom of her heart.
“Whaat, so that’s all it was. I’m relieved—”
Laura spoke with a cheerful voice.
Then, she said, “Ah.”
“I-I’m sorry! I treated your worries like they were nothing!”
In response to Laura’s reaction—
My mouth hung open absentmindedly.
“…You don’t… hate me now…?”
“Huh? Why would I?”
Laura blinked in surprise, looking like she had no idea what I meant whatsoever.
I forced the words out of myself.
“Because, er… I have a shameful past. Failure and setback; that’s all that I have.”
“That’s why I’m telling you, so what!”
Laura looked at me face-to-face and spoke.
“So what about your past! All you did was make a few mistakes! There’s no way I’d look at the present you any differently just because of that!”
“Both failure and setback are what molded you to who you are now. And I like the person you are now! As if something like your past would change anything!”
After she said all that, Laura spoke in a hurry.
“Um, um! When I said l-like…! I-… I meant that as a friend! Yes!”
Finding that behavior of her amusing, I chuckled.
So the “present” is what’s important.
There are people who sneer at my past self. Like Alencia, or that drunkard noble I met right after.
However, there are also people who look at the present me.
Laura didn’t care in the slightest about my past.
Flin, who also knew my past, rejoiced my public acknowledgment at the academy from the bottom of her heart and prayed for my future.
Not everyone in the world was my enemy.
Not everyone believed I was a worthless person.
There were people who accepted the person I am now as well.
No matter how I may feel, the world keeps moving; Time ever marches.
The people around me continue to change as well. My father and brother, who hate me, don’t make up the entirety of my world.
Before I even knew it—
A magnificent new horizon stretched far throughout the once ash-colored world of mine.
It’d be best to forget about the people who ridicule my past self.
“I’m really glad I got to be friends with you. I’m an unreliable guy for my age, but—Let’s get along from here on out as well.”
Laura clutched the hand I held out with both hands.
“That night, you told me: ‘No matter where it may be, I’ll always be your friend.‘ Which is why—”
Laura smiled sweetly and continued.
“This time, I’ll be the one to swear it. I’ll always be your friend. No matter what may happen, I’ll never break this promise.”
However, the moment she let go of my hand—
She unsteadily took two, three steps backward. Then, she put strength into both of her shoulders and stared at me.
I felt a sense of distance in her gaze.
Was I just getting carried along by the momentum in our conversation just now?
Did she actually not believe anything she said?
Is the heartfelt emotion I’m feeling about to shatter into pieces?
Laura began speaking nervously.
“Um… I was going along with the flow and speaking over-familiarly, but, um, you’re a noble from a major household, huh! S-Sorry! Although I didn’t know, it was on the spur of the moment!”
…Aah, that’s right.
Social class in this world is absolute. There exists an uncrossable, massive wall between commoners and nobility in particular.
It was obvious that Laura would worry about that.
I chuckled and shook my head.
“Forget about it.”
“You don’t need to worry about my lineage. I was banished from my household in the first place. I’m just Albert, that’s all.
I’ve decided I want to cherish the people who look at the present me.
Despite that, it would be strange to cherish the worn-out name my past self had.
I can just throw something like that away.
“Be the same friend you’ve always been, Laura. I’ll be sad if you don’t.”
Laura nodded happily after hearing what I said.
“Yes! Take care of me from here on out too!”
I knew Laura’s lineage—
and Laura knew my past.
I felt like we’ve finally been able to become friends in the truest sense of the word.
It was at that moment.
“Break is over! We’ll be departing shortly!”
The captain’s voice resounded.
Laura and I exchanged glances and headed to our original spot.
The ill-feeling that’s been in my chest has already vanished. I felt only a feeling of refreshment spread throughout my heart.
Today’s second chapter. Nice and wholesome one at least. See you guys tomorrow as usual, gn. EDIT: Forgot to mention I plan on updating the website/homepage a little, its pretty barebones. I dont really know what to put on the homepage though. Maybe an announcements section or something so i can actually inform you guys things without posting them in every scuffed tl afterword like i am now lol. Anyway thats all, cya