Shinichi found the natural expression she wore to be even more shocking than her confession itself.
But after a little self-reflection, he quickly realized that that was just him running away from reality.
In fact, the self-reflection was too.
“You don’t need to give me an answer here. I know I’m not qualified to demand such a thing just yet.”
But then the girl feebly shook her head and made a dispirited face.
“As you’re well aware, I’m nothing more than an inexperienced girl who can’t even manage her subordinates. In fact, not only am I unqualified to get a response from you, I’m not even qualified to tell you how I feel. It’s really unfortunate,” she said with a face full of frustration.
Shinichi didn’t know why she thought so highly of him, but the tone of her voice and the look on her face was more than enough to make it clear how serious she was.
“Despite that I still wanted to tell you how I feel. A little selfishness on my part, I’m sorry.”
A mischievous smile appeared on her as she apologized while flustered.
To her, that was probably more embarrassing than confessing her feelings.
But for reasons unrelated to that, the boy found her so adorable in that moment.
The smile of a woman in love was truly a beautiful thing, though it didn’t really make sense for such a smile to be directed at him.
“I should go. Otherwise, Ortho and Rizet will come again.”
With a face blooming in love, the girl stood up and smiled at the boy, then she took a graceful bow, while the boy hastily found something to block his mouth with.
“Thank you for treating me to such delicious crepes today… Umm…”
But then the girl’s eyes suddenly started swimming and she struggled to say something.
That reminded the boy when they met behind the hospital and she struggled to speak.
Even back then the boy actually already knew what she wanted to say.
“Mogu, nku, haa… Call me however you want────Alice.”
That’s why he quickly finished the crepe he shoved into his mouth to tell her those words she wanted to hear, for no other reason than because he himself wished to see what lay on the other side.
“T-Thank you, Shinichi-san!”
All he’d done was to let her call him by name, and all she’d done was to call out that name.
And yet, like a flower blooming, a smile blossomed on this otherworldly princess, and then as though her feelings were too dazzling to be contained, the disguise she wore seemed to break, and a girl that could charm anyone reflected on the boy’s eyes.
“W-Well then, I’ll be on my way!”
Apparently, however, calling his name flustered her so much that she turned her back to the boy and immediately made a run for it.
“You didn’t even hesitate when you confessed, but calling my name is too embarrassing?”
What a strange girl. A smile found its way on the boy as he watched the girl leave, but then the girl suddenly stopped and turned around.
“Indeed, this simply won’t do.”
And then she walked back as though she’d forgotten something.
The boy too stood up and looked around to see what she’d forgotten, but then he noticed that the girl was gazing at him even more than usual.
“Looking like this won’t do.”
Then when she’d stopped close enough that they could reach each other, she muttered those words and undid her disguise.
In the next moment, those spectacular blue ringlet curls broke free and they danced in the sunlight.
A pair of golden eyes passionately locked into the boy’s.
Fortunately, none of the people have been paying them any attention since the two servants left, so there was no one to see the famed princess from the academy revealing herself.
“Shinichi-san, I yearn for and adore you. I know that I’m unworthy the way I am now, but one day for sure, I will become a woman that can stand beside you.”
Knowing they were away from prying eyes, or then again, perhaps she didn’t even know that, but regardless, she declared those words to him as though swearing an oath.
Without a hint of timidity or any false display of strength, she said those words as though she knew they would come to pass.
And she said them while looking straight into his eyes from almost the same height.
The boy stood unmoving.
Averting his eyes here would be an insult to her, but above all, the girl vowing a pledge before him was just too beautiful.
She was shining now, but the way she kept trying to walk forward despite that made her shine even brighter.
That was the ‘light of humanity’ that he yearned for and respected so much. That’s why he couldn’t peel his eyes away from her.
And that’s why, he couldn’t react at all.
Abruptly, the girl asked for his pardon, and just as abruptly, she dove into him, then as though to taste the cream left on his lips, she kissed him on that dangerous border, landing a peck right at the cream she’d left when she shoved her crepe into him.
It was partly to engrave her oath, but beyond that, it was because she wanted to.
A momentary contact as fleeting as it was quick.
Yet the tenderness and flame behind it was more than enough to nail the boy where he stood.
“───Shinichi-san, prepare yourself. No man has ever escaped from a woman of Padyuel.”
The girl said with a wink, but a closer look would show that she was red up to her ears.
She’d kissed him at the border of his lips, but even that was already too much for her, and though her movements were graceful, this time the girl truly ran away.
With her rank in Agility, the speed with which she ran was nothing to scoff at.
The boy watched on with a dumbfounded look, but though the girl’s back remained turned to him, there was no hiding the joy she radiated.