Chapter 9: Age 17.
At a party with you.

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And I became a highest-grade student at the National Academy of Magic.

The summer of my seventeenth year.

After completing our studies at the Academy of Magic, every one of us will have to go out into the world as a magician next year. 

We, the young sorcerers, spent our last summer looking for jobs.

“Okay, my makeup and robe are perfect.
Off we go!”

I slung my large bag over my shoulder and left the room. 

The corridor of the dormitory was long and narrow, with brown doors the same size as the students’ rooms running from one end of the corridor to the other.

I had just started walking a little when I ran into Cynthia, who was just coming out of her room. 

As soon as she saw my bag, she let out a gasp.

“Are you leaving today?”

“Yes.
I’ve got an appointment for an interview with the Magic Branch of Baral.
It’s a long way.”

There are magic branches in each state, and they do the work requested by the residents.

“Well, do you really want to get a job in Baral? If you’re aiming for a branch, why don’t you apply for the Royal Capital Magic Branch? I heard that the salaries and the scale of the work are completely different from other provinces even in the same magic branch.”

Not many children graduate from this national magic academy with top grades and find a job at the magic branch in the countryside. 

The popular royal palace was something everyone would try their luck with.

That’s why it would be hard for Cynthia to understand.

“Yes, but I want to work near my grandfather and brother.”

Cynthia followed me down the corridor with a complicated expression on her face, as if she wasn’t quite convinced.

I shook Cynthia’s hands as she came to see me off at the front exit of the dormitory.

“Cynthia.
Even after we graduate and leave each other, please come hang out with me sometimes.”

Then Cynthia smiled.

“Of course! But we still have two semesters left, you know. There’s more than half a year left until graduation.”

Cynthia had already received an unofficial offer of employment after graduation.

The Royal Magic Agency – that means, she’s a royal palace magician.

The Royal Magical Agency is an organization that oversees all the magicians in the country, and is located in the royal palace, where they conduct cutting-edge magic research, set up magic boundaries throughout the country, and sometimes even participate in wars.

For a magician, there is no better place to get a job than this.
Cynthia was not very good at practical skills, but she was very enthusiastic about studying spell books, and even as a student, she co-authored a book with her professor on spell practice drills and history for beginners.

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Her efforts had paid off, and she had secured a research position at the Royal Magical Agency.

That’s why I’ve been asking Cynthia to play the role of an interviewer for the past few days, practicing the interview over and over again.

“Don’t be too nervous.
Just answer the questions as you normally would and you’ll pass!”

“Okay.
Thanks.”

“Be careful on your way to Baral.
–Good luck…!

At the doorway of the dormitory, Cynthia looked at me a little worriedly as she waved me off with her right hand.

As I crossed the schoolyard with a strong conviction that I would get a job in the state of Baral, I heard my name called in front of the academy library. 

I turned around and saw Gideon at the entrance of the library.

He was carrying a lot of reference books in his arms.

The summer tests were over, but he still seemed to be studying hard.
That’s just like him.

“What’s with the big luggage?”

“I’m going to Baral for a job interview.”

“No way! To Baral?”

What do you mean, “No way”? Don’t be so surprised.

It’s not like Baral is the farthest state or an isolated island in the middle of the ocean.

Gideon, oblivious to my annoyance, walked towards me with a heavy book in his arms.

“Aren’t you going to apply to the Magic Branch of the Royal Capital? If you’re the second in line at this National Academy of Magic, you’ll definitely get a job offer.”

Whenever I hear this from Gideon, who has always been at the top of his class, it sounds kind of sarcastic…

“Gideon, you work for the Royal Palace Magic Agency, right?”

“No, I got a job offer from the Royal Capital Magic Branch.
I’m not going to work for the Royal Palace.”

“What, you’re not going to work at the palace, you’re going to work at the capital’s magic branch? Surprising.”

The Gideon from my past life worked for the royal court.
Why did he change it? I couldn’t ask…

Or rather, what does it mean to recommend the same place to me?

Gideon opened his mouth hesitantly.

“It’s not too late now.
Why don’t you choose the Royal Capital Magic Branch’?”

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I wonder what he’s up to.
Does he want to be my colleague? No way.

Embarrassed, I brushed aside Gideon’s suggestion.

“I love my hometown.
See you later!”

I waved my hand lightly in farewell, then Gideon grabbed my wrist.
When I turned to look at him, he asked me hesitantly.

“Hey Liesel.
There will be a graduation party next year… have you decided who you’re going to with?”

“Graduation party …….
Oh, I’m not attending, so don’t worry.”

The graduation party of the magic academy is voluntary and is held every year at the Butoh venue in the royal capital. 

However, the fee for the party is unusually high, and I don’t really feel like going.

I wonder why it’s so expensive.
It’s a ripoff but it’s a good place.
It’s not so expensive that I can’t participate, but I don’t like being ripped off.

Gideon’s eyes went black and white, as if he had heard some strange reply.

“Are you sure you’re not going? It’s only one party.”

“I’m told that not everyone goes every year.
You’ll need a dress and accessories, right? I’m not going!”

“-The Crow family are aristocrats, aren’t they…?”

“Yes, but we’re not that well off financially.
We only have old dresses.”

Many Lords are rich. 

Because they call themselves this and that, collect taxes from their people, and pocket the money as they see fit.

But my grandfather never does anything like that, he rather works for the people, building schools and hospitals.
I’m happy with that. 

My grandfather is a great lord.

Gideon caught my wrist and asked me, watching my reaction.

“If you had a dress, would you join us?”

“Well, that’s…”

“There are a lot of dresses at the Lancaster estate that might suit you.”

“What?” My thoughts stopped for a moment.

In other words, would he really want to bring a dress from the Duke’s house for me?

Like how he always donates pens and notebooks to his schoolmates.

I appreciate the thoughtfulness, but I don’t want to die in the care of the Lancaster family. 

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I’ve already died once thanks to them.

I’ll just tell him that I’m not interested.

“But you know, I’m a country girl and I’ve rarely been to parties, so I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do…”

“We’re just going to drink, eat, chat, and do a little dancing at the end.
–I’ll bring a dress.
What color would you like?”

Surprisingly forceful.

The lord of one of the four aristocracies must not understand that some girls are reluctant to attend a party. 

In fact, he seems to be trying his best to correct the poor girl’s mistake.

“No, Gideon, it would be bad if you did that.”

“Which do you like better, red or blue?”

“Well, red… No, that’s not it.
I don’t have anyone to dance with in the first place.”

“Then dance with me.
Don’t worry.
–I want you to go to the graduation party with me.”

I’m baffled by the suggestions that keep coming up.

They say that you usually ask a girl you like to dance in dance parties.

This was not the place to waste money.

What’s more, I think Gideon has already promised to dance with some other girl.

I couldn’t just accept.

“Aren’t there a lot of other girls that you promised to dance with?”

“There’s only one song to dance at the graduation party.
You can only dance with one person.”

Even more so, that special one should be chosen for Gideon’s own sake, not out of pity for me.

This kind of goodwill can hurt the one being given, depending on the occasion.
What happens when the promising star of the Golden Pika Lancaster family invites a girl from the lowly aristocratic Crow family?

And you don’t know it, but you’re my enemy.

Last time you were at the center of the faction holding the shoulders of the saint and leading me to execution within a few years.

(Do you think I want to dance with you?)

Of course, the man in front of me now, Gideon, is blameless; on the contrary, he is a disgustingly wonderful, and gentlemanly nobleman.

Still, there is no way I could dance with him.
Imagine that.

If I were to dance with Gideon, I’d get a lot of heat from all the members of the fan club. 

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I don’t want to make enemies unnecessarily.

“I’m fine, Gideon.
You should invite the girl you want to dance with the most.”

When I gently and calmly admonished him, Gideon seemed a little annoyed for some reason, and his brow wrinkled slightly, which was unusual for him.

“That’s why I’m asking this girl to dance with me.”

(Eh, ……!? )

What should I do?

Does he really want to dance with me the most?

The unexpected turn of events made me nervous.

I’m afraid to ask why that is …

“I do appreciate the gesture, Gideon.
But I’m sorry.
I can’t come.”

“Why?”

“Cynthia and Mac won’t be there either.
Actually, the three of us are planning an outdoor party instead, so I can’t.”

“An outdoor party?”

“Yeah.
We’re going to have a bonfire and roast fish and marshmallows.”

“Bonfire…”

Gideon was stunned for a moment, wondering if this was much different from the outdoor party he had imagined.

He blinked his eyes.

I try to ask him.

“Will you come to the outdoor party?”

As expected, Gideon gave a drawn-out, troubled smile.

The question was asked in anticipation of the fact that he would not be able to make the decision to join us.

“… I’m in charge of the acknowledgments to the teachers at the graduation party in the royal capital.”

Well, if he’s the heir to the Duke, he ought to be.

“Well then, it’s going to be tough not to attend.
— Acknowledgments, good luck!”

I was very satisfied and left him.

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