Seeing Lucia’s kitten-like face, Herwin smirked and raised his upper body.
“Don’t get up, stay down, you have bruises all over your body and it’s going to hurt.”
“Oh, I know… I’ve been hurting all along.”
Despite Lucia’s protests, Herwin pushed himself to his feet and sat up.
“Aren’t you hungry? You haven’t eaten since lunch yesterday.
I figured you’d be hungry when you woke up anyway, so I thought I’d bring you a sandwich…….”
As Lucia pulled out the sandwich, Herwin looked around as if searching for something.
“Arista? Why Arista?”
It was a little strange to wake up and look for Arista.
Lucia looked at Herwin, who seemed out of sorts, and then realized something.
“Oh, because Arista saved you? She’s in the infirmary, too, though she hasn’t regained consciousness yet.”
Herwin’s brow creased.
Sensing that he was worried about Arista, Lucia hastened to add.
“Don’t worry too much.
Arista is unharmed, except for a little fatigue.
She’ll regain consciousness soon, just like you…….”
Before Lucia could finish her sentence, the blue walls of her eyes swelled.
Herwin was trying to get out of bed.
Lucia scrambled to her feet, oblivious to the sandwich falling to the floor.
“Herwin, you can’t get out of bed yet!”
“……I have to go to Arista.”
“What? Where are you going to go in this body? You can’t even walk properly with your ankle in a cast.”
“Lucia, I need you to help me up.”
You just woke up, how can you…….”
Lucia was about to say no when she saw the red eyes of determination.
She could see the sincerity in his eyes.
Lucia finally sighed uncontrollably and supported Herwin.
“Just this once, promise me you’ll lie back down as soon as you see Arista’s face.”
“Okay, I will.”
Lucia did her best to support him, though the twenty-centimeter difference in height made it more like she was hugging him than supporting him.
Thank goodness Arista’s bed wasn’t far away.
“Huh? Lucia, Herwin.”
Arista, who was supposed to be asleep, sat up and greeted them.
Lucia exclaimed in surprise.
“Arista, you’re awake! When did you wake up?”
Is this the nurse’s office?”
“Yes, I brought you to the infirmary right after you collapsed.
How are you feeling, are you sick or anything…….”
As Lucia hurried to check on Arista’s condition, the hand on her left shoulder tightened.
Feeling the strength of Herwin’s grip, Lucia turned her head.
“Lucia, I’m sorry, but can I talk to Arista alone for a moment?”
“I need to talk to her for a minute.”
She felt an invisible wall between them as Herwin spoke to Arista without looking back at her.
Lucia took an involuntary step back in surprise.
I’ll get out of your way…….”
Herwin drew the curtain beside the bed so no one could see.
An uneasiness she had never felt before began to creep up and take over Lucia’s mind.
‘What if Herwin has a thing for Arista…….’
Why did Bianca’s words come to mind now?
Lucia couldn’t figure out why.
* * *
Time has passed, and it’s now been two weeks since Herwin and Arista went missing.
The school was abuzz for a few days after their disappearance, but as time went on, the people’s attention drifted elsewhere.
No one cared about Herwin and Arista anymore, except for those around them.
Arista returned to her normal routine the day she regained consciousness.
Aside from a few bruises and fatigue, she was unharmed and didn’t need to stay in the infirmary.
Herwin, on the other hand, had bruises all over his body, a broken ankle, and a mild concussion that kept him out of the infirmary for a week.
Lucia nursed him every day, and their friends, Brian, Ethan, Christine, and Bianca often came to visit.
Lucas, who had heard the news, came to visit as well.
Herwin looked as normal as he had before his injury.
From this point of view, he was the same as before, only injured.
However, Lucia noticed that Herwin only reacted differently to certain people.
“You’re still in a cast.
How long are you going to have to do this?”
One day, about a week after leaving the nurse’s office, Arista approached Herwin.
His right foot was still bandaged.
“We still have another week.”
Herwin laughed softly, something he would have done bluntly if Ethan or Brian had asked.
Sure, even before his disappearance, Herwin had been close enough to laugh and joke with Arista, but it had been just that, a joke between close friends.
The smile he wore now was one he would have expected to see from someone more than a friend.
Lucia couldn’t help but feel a pang of impatience as she watched the two of them interact.
She didn’t like the idea of him talking to Arista, even if it was just to exchange pleasantries.
‘I’m sure… it wasn’t like that before.’
He hadn’t shown the slightest bit of interest when Bianca or others had tried to set him and Arista up before.
She’d just assumed it was a bizarre rumor concocted by gossip lovers.
Now, however, she was beginning to have a sneaking suspicion that their rumors might be true.
“Does that mean you can use Aurors properly now?”
“I try, but it just doesn’t work as well as I’d like, but I did cast an Auror once, so I’m sure I’ll be able to use it freely soon.”
“Oh, I thought for sure I’d be the first to cast an auror… I’ll have to hurry up and catch up with you once I’m healed.”
It was a wistful tone, but the emotion beneath it was affectionate.
Lucia tightened her grip on the hem of her skirt, knowing full well that Herwin didn’t show affection to just anyone.
“Lucia, are you okay?”
Lucia looked up from her thoughts, deep in thought.
She realized that Arista and Herwin were looking at her with concern.
Lucia stuttered in embarrassment.
“No, you don’t look so good.
Are you sick?”
“I was fine a minute ago.”
A large, rough palm covered Lucia’s white forehead
Herwin had placed his hand on her forehead to take her temperature.
The smallest gesture lifted Lucia’s spirits from rock bottom.
“You have a …… slight fever.”
“What? Really? Is your cold not over?”
“No, my cold is almost over, I just feel hot.”
Lucia smiled and held out her hand, but neither of their faces brightened.
The hand on her forehead fell away.
For a moment, Herwin’s face was suddenly drawn to something, even as he inwardly lamented the loss of her hand.
She found herself staring into Herwin’s red eyes.
Before she could comprehend what was happening, a slightly cold touch touched her forehead.
“Look, you have a fever.”
“Oh, no, I’m fine…….”
This time, Herwin put their foreheads together, instead of touching her forehead with his hands.
Lucia couldn’t look at his face, which was so close to hers.
She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to pull away from his grasp.
Fortunately, he didn’t hold her any longer.
Lucia felt heat rise to her face.
She wondered if she had turned bright red enough for anyone to recognize it.
“Herwin, be good to Lucia.
She went out of her way to take care of you, even though she had a cold.”
“I know, but she doesn’t have to do this when she doesn’t feel well, and she doesn’t listen to me.”
In response to Arista’s blunt words, Herwin spoke in a groggy voice with a light breath.
Her chest tightened as if she were a nuisance.
“Lucia, I’m only in a cast, and I’m not in much pain, so you don’t have to take care of me anymore.
Take care of yourself first.”
“Yeah, yeah, you’re taking care of him too much, even for a childhood friend.
He’s not a child, he can take care of himself.”
His words encouraged Arista.
Lucia forced an expression that threatened to break.
Normally, she would have laughed it off, but today she couldn’t do that.
‘You’re saying this, but don’t tell me you don’t understand, right? I’m telling you that I want to be alone with him, and I’m telling you that it’s annoying that you’re barging in on me without even noticing, so stop acting like you don’t understand and face reality.’
A negative thought popped into her head.
Even though she knew in her head that she was delusional, her heart refused to accept it.
She had never felt this way before.
Her stomach would bubble up like lava, her irritation would boil over, she’d want to lash out, and she gets frustrated that she couldn’t control her emotions.
And most of all, she felt like Arista’s genuine concern for her was fake, and she hated it more and more.
Lucia thought she had handled herself wisely when being jealous of the women who approached Herwin, and she thought she could withstand that level of jealousy many times over.
But it was all just arrogance.
The jealousy she’d been experiencing didn’t even have a “J” in it.
A shaky breath escaped Lucia’s mouth in a thin stream.
“Lucia, your complexion has changed for the worse…….”
Arista tried to reach out to Lucia, but Lucia slapped her hand away with a stern expression.
The tension in the room instantly subsided.
Lucia stiffened for a moment, then immediately realized her mistake and paled.
“Ah, I’m, I’m sorry… Are you hurt?”
“Eh? Eh… I’m not hurt.”
“I must have been tired and sensitive.
I’m so sorry…….”
Lucia dropped her docile eyes.
Embarrassed, Arista immediately laughed to put Lucia at ease.
“I’m fine, so don’t apologize.
You might as well.”
Standing next to the smiling Arista, Herwin looked at Lucia with a serious expression.
Since she was his childhood friend before he was her crush, she wondered if he had sensed her true feelings.
‘Tsk, I hate this…….’
She didn’t want to show him her ugly heart.
Herwin was about to call Lucia when someone called her from behind.
“Lucia, the professor wants to see you.”
Bianca swooped in and grabbed Lucia’s hand.
Flustered, Lucia realized she was signaling her.
“Uhhh… If the professor calls me, I have to go.”
Lucia scrambled to her feet.
She quickly left with Bianca and turned around to find Herwin glaring at her.
Feeling unnecessarily stabbed in the heart, Lucia avoided his gaze and hurriedly turned away.
Once they were out of the classroom and into the hallway, Lucia spoke up.
“……Bianca, thank you.”
“You looked in trouble, so I roughly put it around you.
I’m sure something happened.”
Lucia had no answer to Bianca’s question.
Seeing her dark expression, Bianca snorted.
“So what did I say? I told you to watch out for Princess Lydia, didn’t I?”
In the past, Lucia would have told her not to say such a thing, but this time she had no answer.
Seeing that she looked like she might cry at any moment, Bianca hurriedly dragged Lucia away and headed for a secluded spot.
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