The follow up exam was held after school.
If you fail this exam as well, then you will have to take another exam, and if you fail that then you may be expelled from the school. The school was ruthless in weird areas.
But I wasn’t worried after the two days of one-on-one tutoring sessions.
I went to the study room with Alec and Rock to wait for the good news during the follow up exam.
“Huh? What’s wrong, Rock?”
Alec called out to his aide when he noticed his strange attitude as we walked down the corridor while chatting.
“Someone has been following us for a few minutes now.”
Rock was on alert. I always wonder this, but has he been attacked by assassins before?
I peeked through them and saw a brown head of hair around the corner. He seemed to have been spooked since we stopped and hid in a haste.
“Alec, Rock, can you go ahead?”
“Someone you know?”
“Yeah. I think it’s Matthias. Marylee’s cousin.”
Alec and Rock knew who that was even though they had never spoken directly.
“Why is he hiding?”
“Maybe he’s afraid of Rock.”
Rock glared at me since he was flustered by his master’s reproachful gaze.
“Don’t blame everything on me.”
“I’m joking. Matthias is probably shy around people he doesn’t know. I’m sure he wants to talk to me. I’m just going to have a quick chat with him, so you two go ahead.”
“Alright. Introduce him to us later.”
I parted with Alec and Rock and then returned to the corner to find Matthias was still there.
He had his back against the wall and was holding his chest with both his hands. He jumped in surprise when I suddenly appeared in front of him.
“Ah, sorry. Hello Matthias!”
He jumped even more when I called out his name.
I don’t know what he’s so scared of, but I tried to smile as friendly as possible so that he wouldn’t run away.
“I heard your name from Marylee. I haven’t introduced myself properly, have I? I’m Aime. It’s nice to see you again.”
“… N-nice, to, meet, you.”
He kept his distance away from me and managed not to run away. Then, he replied while looking down.
“Yes. What is it?”
I prompted, but he didn’t say anything straight away. He seemed to be desperately searching for words.
“I, I’ve, been, meaning, to, thank, you.”
“For the other day?”
Both of us ended up getting drenched, so I’m not sure if I helped him out or not, but he is a very sincere boy.
“Not, just that, for Marylee as well.”
He continued to mumble. I took a step closer without him realising and stuck out my ear to listen to what he was saying. It was very hard to hear him.
“… About the follow up exam. I heard that you helped with her studies… I couldn’t help her, so I’m glad that you, you know, helped her instead…”
Come to think of it, he must have passed the exam since he’s talking to me while the follow up exam is on.
Did Marylee not ask her cousin to teach her even though they’re really close? If she had come to me to ask something that she didn’t understand from her cousin’s teachings then I would have understood, but she didn’t say anything.
“You didn’t teach Marylee?”
I didn’t mean to accuse him of anything, but he looked up and stiffened.
Hmm… I’ll be careful.
But he said something with a lonely expression on his face before I could say anything.
“… She doesn’t want me to teach her.”
“Why not? You two are close, aren’t you?”
“She’s just used to taking care of me, that’s all. She’s not like me, who can’t do anything. If, if I weren’t here, then she’d have more friends…”
A switch flipped within him. A lot of people came off strong, but it was hard to act weak. He wasn’t like a noble at all.
He was almost inaudible, and I had to force him to cut off his long list of demeaning words and summarised it.
“In short, Marylee wants to act like a big sister in front of you, so she doesn’t want to ask you for help.”
Matthias looked vacant.
“It looks that way to someone who doesn’t know you two, and you don’t have to point out all your flaws. A lot of people view you more calmly.”
There’s no need to put a bad image on yourself in the beginning, especially when you’re not trying to be devious or create a gap later on.
“You don’t need to thank me. I had a fun time teaching her and it was also a good review for me. I’ll tell her to count on you properly next time.”
“Y-you, don’t have to, do that…”
Matthias turned red, and he looked down again. This kid’s cute.
Oh yeah, I had some things to ask him.
“Say, I want to ask you about the other day. Can you decipher spells?”
I couldn’t ask him this question before since Marylee had immediately rushed towards us.
We’re learning the Mitoan language, not the spells. The textbook we were given didn’t go into many details about spells and I wondered if he had studied it from elsewhere.
He quickly shook his head.
“N-no way. I’m just, um… I don’t think, I can… Sorry.”
“Ah, no, you don’t need to apologise. We’ll be taught it later anyways. I just wanted to ask you in case you knew.”
I told him my intention and waited a little. Then, he said in a quiet voice after a few moments of silence.
“… I, don’t know, anything special. The books and materials on magic are kept at the royal palace and school. I’m just, umm, interested in becoming a spell developer in the future, that’s all.”
So that’s why he boldly approached the seniors that day. His swelling curiosity gave his timid self courage and made him proactive.
But he was at a loss for words when he stood in front of them. The seniors bullied him for fidgeting and not saying anything even though he had approached them first.
Then I came, and they somehow ended up showing us magic, which satisfied Mattias.
I was glad that he didn’t resent me for getting him soaked. He’s got quite the big heart.
“I see, so you can create new spells as well.”
“That sounds like fun. I’m at a bit of a loss now.”
Matthias tilted his head in confusion, and I explained.
“I want to become a magic engineer because I think it would be wonderful to be able to use my magic to let non-mages use magic.”
“Really? That sounds great too. Traus doesn’t process many magic stones yet, so I think there’s a lot we can do… You can do new things when no one has done it.”
He added something very challenging and positive at the end of his sentence which was out of character for him so far. It’s like he was saying a proverb.
“You seem to know a lot of things, Matthias.”
“I want to talk to you more if it’s alright with you. Would you like to come with me to the study room? Alec also wanted to talk to you.”
“Huh? Huh? Th-the Crown Prince did?”
I quickly walked away without hearing Matthias’s squeaky response.
“I, I, ah, huh?!”
He trotted after me, unable to stop or turn back.
I did it. I made another friend~.
The day after the follow up exam, I was relaxing in the lounge with Alec, Rock, Cliff and Matty when Mary, who had been summoned by a teacher, suddenly rushed in.
She shouted my name at the entrance in excitement. What’s going on?
I raised my hand to indicate where I was and Mary came rushing up to me (though she was only walking fast enough not to be considered running), but she noticed Alec on her way towards me, and finally slowed down, and stopped beside the sofa where I was sitting. She bowed.
“I am very sorry for interrupting your relaxation time, Your Highness. My name is Marylee Belmandi. I have something to talk to Aime about.”
She caught her breath and greeted him in a lady-like way, but her eyes lit up as if she couldn’t wait to tell me the news.
“Did you get your results?”
Alec asked Mary, who was jumping with excitement, with a slight smile.
“Y-you knew about it?”
“I heard about it from Aime and Matty.”
Mary looked at her cousin, who was sitting next to me, and Matty’s shoulders shook in surprise before he curled onto himself.
“By the way, since when did you become His Highness’s acquaintance, Matty? You didn’t say anything strange, did you?”
“What?! I didn’t, I didn’t, really.”
Mary was suspicious since Matty was panicking, but we really didn’t hear anything significant. The only thing we know is that Mary was never good at studying, so she studied hard for the entrance exam.
“Mary, how did the exam go?”
I asked her to help Matty out.
“Ah, right, look!”
Mary turned away from Matty towards me and proudly held out her test sheet in front of me.
“Oh, you passed with 80%.”
“I even got the question, that they had changed, correct!”
“Oh~, wow, that’s great.”
I clapped and she puffed out her chest even more, but Cliff, who was sitting on the sofa across from me, frowned.
“How shameless, asking a commoner to teach you.”
Mary was offended by this and immediately got defensive.
“What? You were beaten by a commoner too! I saw it.”
“What?! Are you insulting me?!”
“You insulted me first.”
“Ah, now, now, don’t fight, Cliff and Mary.”
“It’s your fault!”
“No, it’s yours!”
Oh? I tried to stop them, and they turned their anger on me. How outrageous.
“Cliff, Aime taught me too.”
Cliff was at a loss of words when Alec, who couldn’t stand to watch any longer, interrupted.
“Your Highness… you are magnanimous. I will help you next time!”
“Thanks, but Rock looks like he needs your help more than me. Keep up the good work.”
I didn’t miss when Rock shuddered behind him. He was respectful, but he’s a Spartan. I heard that he tutored Rock even when they returned to the dormitory.
“Yes, please leave it to me!”
Cliff was oblivious to Rock’s state and was energetic after receiving his mission.
“Anyway, congrats Mary.”
Alec congratulated her once again. She smiled, bent awkwardly on one knee and curtsied.
“Thank you for your kind words, Your Highness. I am sorry for behaving disgracefully in front of you.”
“You don’t need to be humble. I don’t consider someone who works hard unsightly. I am glad you passed the exam.”
Alec settled everything with kind words and a smile. I’m glad he’s here.
At that moment, someone pulled my robe lightly and I thought I was imagining things.
Matty thanked me in a muffled voice in place of his cousin.
“You’re welcome. Say Mary, you should rely on Matty next time. Your cousin misses you.”
“What?! Y-you don’t have to say that!”
Matty raised his voice. Mary was flabbergasted.
“Matty got a perfect score on his exam the other day too. He’s very reliable~.”
Cliff’s reaction was the loudest. He hates to lose.
Matty was horrified by the look in Cliff’s eyes. He should be proud of himself since he got a great score.
“… I won’t lose next time.”
“I-it’s a coincidence, just a coincidence. S-scary…”
“Hey! Don’t frighten Matty!”
Mary was protecting Matty, who was about to cry, from Cliff, who was getting competitive.
I laughed at their amusing interaction while casually glancing at Alec and Rock. Rock was looking at Mary, Cliff and Matty in amazement, but Alec met my eye.
He looked like he was having fun.
I guess I can consider them mutual friends since they didn’t even notice when we called them by their nicknames.