The smile on Reina’s face slipped off as she heard this.
“Anyhow, never mind about having no one else I’m close to besides you, but if I have to face that many people, it’s a bit…”
“You haven’t gotten close to anyone at the academy?”
She was open to befriending other people, but how could she have done so when she wasn’t even given the chance to talk? At some point, it even occurred to her that they must all be avoiding Reina, as if everyone planned it.
“Haa… I must have been sprayed with human repellent or something.
Everyone just turns around the moment they see me.”
Maybe you smell, Reina.”
“Well, that’s also possi…”
Wait a sec.
Reina glared at her friend, who was still laughing.
Go ahead and laugh at me, why don’t you.”
“Yeah, you sound like you wanna get beat up.”
When Reina hit him on the shoulder, Paul pouted.
“Stop acting cute.
And what smell? Do you wanna get hit so hard that you won’t be able to smell anything for a while?”
“You’re laughing? You’re seriously laughing right now?”
“I’m pretty when I laugh though.”
Practically fuming, Reina glared even harder at Paul, who then took a step back.
“Ah, I gotta go now! Reina, you’re not coming with me, right? Bye then!”
In a flash, he disappeared from Reina’s sight.
“Ha… And he’s supposed to be a true friend.”
* * *
With the exception of Reina, some children hailing from the nine major households were hanging out at one of Chantra’s drawing rooms.
“I’m just guessing here, but you know, doesn’t it seem like Reina turned into a crazy lady who’s hellbent on her goals?”
All eyes suddenly focused on that one person who said this.
“No, I mean, Reina’s acting like a person who’s got flowers in her head these days.”
“Do you think that if you word it that way, we’ll laugh?”
The person who asked the first question raised his hand in surrender.
“Yes, yes, but even to me, Reina’s being crazy, so how else do I say it?”
“Reina has always been a bit unique.”
The person who said this answered back like its nothing and continued to munch on the apple in his hand, then the other person stroked his chin and responded.
“Not to that extent.”
“Again with that nonsense.”
He was trying to listen to what the other person was saying, but eventually he clicked his tongue and stood up from his seat, perhaps to get a drink for himself.
But it was at that moment.
Paul, who was playing with a magic crystal ball, spoke up.
“You’re kinda right though?”
“She’s crazy? Has she really gone crazy?”
To answer that, Paul set down the crystal ball and shrugged.
“Not exactly, it’s just that she’s acting a little differently.”
As though he’s glad that there’s someone finally on his side, the person who claimed that Reina had ‘flowers in her head’ shouted and intervened between the two other people.
“See! I told you so! Didn’t you all hear what I told you about what I heard when she was alone with His Excellency Gerard?”
“That what you heard made goosebumps crawl all over your skin?”
“I told you I have good ears!”
“So what kind of conversation was it.”
“Reina called His Excellency ‘Honey’.”
“Pfft… Bwaha, hahaha…! W-What did you just say?”
“What’s worse, His Excellency even got concerned about Reina’s health? He asked if she was drunk, or if she got food poisoning— he said stuff like that.”
Everyone but Paul had their mouths gaping open.
A woman who was unrivaled in the poison arts to the point that her skills were comparable to the first generation Marquis Chantra, yet couldn’t do anything else other than that.
But no, to be more exact, she was a woman who just ‘didn’t’ do anything else.
But a scandal between the representative pain in the neck of House Chantra, Reina—the very symbol of incompetence, mind you—and the representative pragmatic fellow, Ethan?
“Eyy, you must have heard it wrong.”
“Or you might have just mistaken those people for someone else.”
At the wave of negative responses, Paul once again interjected.
“That sounds about right though?”
“Yeah, no way that’s it.”
It seemed like no one could believe it.
“Is Reina close to His Excellency Gerard?”
“I’m not sure about them being close, but anyway, I think she’s trying to get along with everyone more, including His Excellency.”
They reacted one at a time, showing how they truly felt about that.
As he had set down the crystal ball and reached for another magic tool, Paul continued in a casual tone.
“She’s not that bad.”
“I don’t know about that.”
Just try to get to know her a bit.”
Fran of House Carter reacted with particular loathing.
This was because House Carter and House Chantra hadn’t been on good terms for some generations now.
“Fran’s just like that, but you guys should just take off those tinted glasses for a sec.”
“It’s not about tinted glasses, it’s from the basis of rational judgment.”
“I’m not talking to you, Fran.”
“Everyone feels the same way as I do anyway.”
Fran, who kept butting into the conversation, let out his frustrations, but Paul eventually made a light hand gesture.
Then, Fran’s mouth was zipped tight.
Though they specialized in healing magic, House Bohr was still essentially a household of mages.
So in any place where the imperial family and Ethan weren’t present, he was like God and the truth itself.
Closing Fran’s mouth like that as though he was a dictator, Paul tilted his head slightly to the side as he came to realize something.
“Now that I think of it, Reina’s right.”
Those from the nine major households seemed to be fairly close with each other.
But why was it that Reina felt awkward around the others?
After frowning for a moment, his expression soon relaxed and the corners of his lips turned up to a grin.
If the problem was rooted in feeling awkward, then the solution was simple.
Shouldn’t he orchestrate a situation wherein the only choice was to get close to the others.
“It’s been a while, but shall we all have a trip to Cressen?”
At the untimely suggestion, everyone averted their gazes and stared at some distant mountain.
Subsequently, Paul smiled wider this time and uttered not a suggestion, but a demand.
“Then I believe everyone’s going.”
To reiterate, when Ethan’s not here, the one at the top of the food chain was inevitably Paul.
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