And then, he went to the Academy of Magic where he was the youngest top student. Even in that institute that specialized in magic and magical power, Agedilus’s presence stood out. Even if he read the history books of the country, the number of magicians with hair as complete black as his could be counted on one hand. That’s just why in his house, he had to take the position of being 『sealed』.
On top of that, due to reading all the magical books with Filmina, Agedilus’s grades excelled extraordinarily on how to manage magical power or the history and study of magicians. And it was none other than Agedilus who realized the reality of that.
Naturally, it was an obvious truth that jealousy and envy would spread over that. He didn’t think the backbiting and teasing attached would be painful, but he was made to realize from the bottom of his heart how annoying it was. He thought ‘every single one of them has so much free time’ more than a few times.
It would’ve been easy to shut them up with some magic. But fights were prohibited inside the institute, and with the incident with Filmina, Agedilus knew more than anyone the fear of hurting someone with magic.
As the others realized he wouldn’t fight back with magic, they grew worse. Agedilus’s tongue slowly grew cleverer in response to the various bad behavior he received. The mouth he rarely opened in his time at the Lancent Estate turned to a sharp blade before he realized it. His merciless sharp tongue became a weapon to protect himself.
He had a bright mind from the start; his mouth would crush or pierce the opponent’s weaknesses as easily as breathing. He interacted the same way with girls who approached him, deceived by his appearance, and he quite literally didn’t know how many girls he’d made cry. He knew that was making things increasingly worse, but he still intentionally kept it like that.
He didn’t need friends. His ultimate, topmost priority was just to graduate as soon as possible and go home.
In the midst of such an academy life, a lethal incident happened. A clique that had been irritated by him since he entered stole a letter he’d received from Filmina.
It was decided he wouldn’t return until he graduated, and he and Filmina wouldn’t meet until then. To make up for that, they regularly exchanged letters since he got in without fail. The letters he received from her were full of mere trivial things like a tea ceremony she went to, or a book that she thought was interesting, but they still made him endlessly, inevitably happy.
Sometimes she’d put in a pressed flower of the season or fallen leaves along with a sentence, 「If I left you alone, you probably wouldn’t even notice the passing of seasons, so here.」 He couldn’t tell if she did that out of concern or was just teasing him. There were also times she’d give him a handkerchief she’d hand-sewn the embroidery herself on, with 「Because you did well!」 He’d store those handkerchiefs carefully in a drawer in his desk in his room, while thinking such uncharacteristic things like, ‘It’s too good to use.’
Speaking of which, one day she sent him a handkerchief that had a woodsorrel embroidered on it, the flower blooming on his field he’d shown her long ago at the Lancent Estate. When he realized that, he felt something completely indescribable.
He’d heard from her that woodsorrels symbolize joy and a radiant heart. 「And then,」 she’d hesitated for some reason, saying no more than, 「I forgot the rest.」 After he watched her leave for the Adina Estate, he wasted no time in looking up what woodsorrels symbolized in a book.
Like that, he found the last symbolism of the woodsorrel. It was:
「……’Living together with you’?」
He didn’t think anything then. But it was different when he received the handkerchief. He thought, ‘Is this what they call not believing your own eyes?’
He didn’t know what meaning Filmina had intended when she embroidered a woodsorrel on this handkerchief and sent it to him. But, if. What if this was what she’d meant? Holding the handkerchief in one hand, he covered his face without thinking. His face felt hot. Even without looking in the mirror, he knew his face was red. He was making a fool of himself if he awkwardly got his hopes up. He knew that much. But even so, he couldn’t help not hoping. He couldn’t help not being happy. And at the same time, he wondered in his heart if he was really allowed to feel such things.
That’s why his reply was so late. 「Do you remember?」 He didn’t know how much meaning was packed into that phrase. After agonizing over it, he finally put a bouquet of daisies in a letter with magic. 「I remember.」 Just that phrase accompanying it. Whether she’d properly understand the meaning of the daisies was a gamble. Whether she understood or didn’t, it was fine either way. He couldn’t say it directly, but he still wanted to say it. He replied to Filmina, all the while laughing at what a coward he was.
Their letters afterwards continued as before with no change, so she really might not have understood in the end. But he continued exchanging letters with her, making himself understand that it was better this way than to awkwardly make her realize his feelings.
A letter like that was stolen from him, after they’d even especially looked up her identity.
「So, the woman to become the wife of a monster like you is damaged goods, cursed by a spirit, huh? No wonder you’re such a fine match.」
It was upsetting even thinking back on it. No, it couldn’t be expressed with a single word like ‘upsetting’. Those words just etched themselves into his heart, deeply and strongly.
He doesn’t remember exactly what happened next. He just remembers by the time he realized it, that man was sobbing in front of him, repenting, 「Spare me!」 The surrounding structures and equipment had been completely destroyed from his magical power, and the followers of the man that’d spoken those rash words were now all lying on the ground, groaning.
Even as he saw that, he didn’t think anything. It wasn’t like he felt bad for them. On the other hand, it wasn’t like he thought his actions were justified either. He just thought, ‘I’m still alive, huh,’ calm to the point it was strange. ‘I have to clean up.’ That’s what he thought. ‘I have to clean up and get the letter back.’ That one goal dominated him above all.
If the teachers there had been unable to stop him, he might really have ‘cleaned up’.
The events afterwards were rather trivial. He was suspended for a week starting that day. That was all. They made an explanation that ‘the other party was also at fault’, but more than that, the academy couldn’t have expelled him and left him by himself with his black hair.
And then, before he realized it, there was no one left around him. But he was fine with that. Getting close with people wasn’t what one should do at school – one should be studying magic. He had already decided long ago what was truly precious to him.
Seven years passed like that. He graduated with the top grades just like when he entered the academy. He can never forget the day he finally returned home.
He returned to the Lancent Estate for a while, and then went straight to the Adina Estate with his father. In front of the door stood Filmina to greet him, with her family.
She wore a light-colored dress, simple and plain compared to what young girls her age would wear. But that rather suited her, with how strangely calm she was. She was taller than him at the age of 7, but now he had grown taller than her. As he looked down at her, closer to her, she was different from what he’d assumed she’d look like for 7 years.
Frankly, she’d grown beautiful. And he thought she would’ve been much, much more beautiful. They do often say that things are more beautiful as memories. She was just, how to put it… Much more ordinary than what he’d imagined. Commonplace. If one were speaking just of beauty, prettiness, then the girls at the Academy of Magic that had confessed to him or whatever were far more beautiful than her. That’s why he felt disappointed.
But that somehow shy smiling face of hers was the same as the one she’d replied to him, 「Of course,」 with, that one day. The same smiling face he’d fallen in love with. ‘Ah, so it really is her,’ he thought. That smile that put him so unbearably at ease, made him so inescapably happy. And yet.
「——How unfortunate, you haven’t changed at all.」
‘…A mistake, even for me,’ he thinks.
The sharp tongue that had ingrained itself into him for 7 years blurted it out unintentionally, not staying low even when he was in front of none other than her.
Afterwards, his father gave him some honest advice, 「Agedilus, that was too much of an unexpected curveball, even if you were just trying to hide your embarrassment.」 He had no response to that. She had simply smiled and brushed off even his sharp words as a joke, so he missed the chance to correct his sharp tongue that he was very aware of. In the end, it stayed like that even after his service at the royal palace started.