Chapter 28- A big night party for two (2)
What is he talking about?
He turns his face away in bitterness and quiet silence, displaying his profile.
“What’s wrong? With this face, I mean–it’s the same cool Gideon as always, right?”
Then Gideon suddenly showered my forehead with kisses. I flinched at the force of it, as if I were about to be eaten and backed away a few steps.
When the kiss storm ended, he hugged me tightly. He held me so tightly into his chest that I felt as if my spine would break.
“Gideon, it hurts.”
I tried to wriggle away, but he didn’t relax at all.
Who are you?
Are you really that Gideon Lancaster?
Puzzled, Gideon whispered to me pleadingly.
“Just for tonight. Just once….. Liesel put your arms around me, too.”
The dead Liesel in me screams out.
I forcefully twist it out of my mind, drive it to the corner of my mind and put my trembling hands around Gideon’s back.
My heart beats even faster as I embrace him and my head feels like it’s going to burn out. At the same time, my heart is incredibly full.
The thought that I shouldn’t respond to his feelings is swept away with great force.
(Oh my… what am I going to do …..)
When we embraced, I was filled with tremendous happiness.
It was just like that night. A feeling of elation as if I could fly away.
As we closed our eyes and embraced each other, I felt a rush in my chest and a strange, conflicting sense of security.
Once I meditated on our relationship for the first time, all that remained was a feeling of affirmation for him.
All along, the previous Liesel had kept a lid on her feelings.
–I don’t dislike him at all. I like this Gideon.
I’ve been pretending not to notice.
I’m confused by my feelings.
How long has this been going on? Was it when I noticed that he bought Crystal a skirt for her uniform?
Or was it since my third year at the Academy of Magic, when he cared for my wounds during the practical exam?
I have always cared about him and watched him because he is Gideon. He was the only one I was looking at.
His kindness had somehow melted my heart, which was frozen with anger.
I ended up asking him.
“Since when did you love me?”
“I’ve liked you since the moment I met you in the Baral forest.”
“That long ago? It’s a little bit phony.”
I chuckled and he loosened his arms around me and looked at me.
“It’s true. You were so cute when you came running to the river like you were in trouble.”
“Was that cute?”
“Of course. It was also very cute that you walked around looking for a horse with me, looking disgruntled.”
“Umm… you have a unique sensibility.”
“Unbelievable, isn’t it? I could look at you like this forever.”
I’m embarrassed to be told such a thing head-on.
“Were you really drowning in the creek that time?”
“You’re the only one who called that mud puddle a ‘swamp,’ remember?”
“What is strange is that you, a magician, asked me for help. Were you really in trouble then?”
“If you want me to lie, I’ll answer.”
Chuckling, I shift my gaze away from Gideon and see the great hall of the evening party across the garden.
“…… Why didn’t we dance over there?”
“Here it can just be the two of us.”
“Perhaps if you took me with you, I’d get in trouble? I’m sure the Duke won’t take too kindly to me.”
When I boldly asked, Gideon gently touched the tip of my chin with his fingertip.
“No. To be honest, I don’t want another man to see you all dressed up. I’d be a hopelessly crappy, jealous man when it comes to you.”
“You say that again…”
I cover my cheeks with my hands to hide my face, which is probably red and Gideon grabs my wrists and pulls my hands away.
“Don’t hide. I want to see you.”
As it was, he folded his knees and sat down on the grass. Then he pulls me in and sits me down next to him.
“Are we going to stay here tonight?”
I asked him jokingly, and Gideon nodded timidly.
Sitting on the dewy grass, it was a shame to waste my dress, but it might be nice to spend the evening like this.
I sigh helplessly to myself for thinking such a thing.
Thus, under the night sky, Gideon and I continued our nostalgic conversation about our days at the institute.
We finally did not go to the hall, but spent the whole time together in the garden.
Gideon, who did not show up for the grand ball, was later scolded severely by his father, the duke.
After the Grand Soiree, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and went to visit Cynthia at her dormitory.
I couldn’t stop feeling attracted to Gideon and the more I got to know him, the more and more certain questions grew. I couldn’t handle this alone.
It was late at night, but Cynthia let me into her room without a single look of disapproval and I guess she was already in her nightgown just before going to bed.
“I’m sorry to bother you. I really need to talk to you about something.”
The room has a bed, a desk set and a bookshelf, and the decor is almost identical to my dorm room. The bookshelf is full of books, which is very like Cynthia.
I hurriedly stopped Cynthia from making me a cup of tea and since it was late at night, I quickly got down to business.
As we both sat down on the simple single bed provided, I heard the coils of the old mattress creak. I lean against the slightly yellowed white wall.
It’s hard to know where to start, and I repeat, “Um, um,” over and over in vain in front of Cynthia, who is silent, waiting for me to open my mouth.
I take a slow, deep breath to calm down, then cut off.
“I said the crown prince is like a different person, right?”
“Yeah, he has a different personality than last time.”
“Actually, there’s something I find odd. There is another person who has obviously changed completely.”
Cynthia nodded repeatedly, her long brown hair lightly bunched back, urging her to continue.
“Who is it?”
“It’s Gideon. You know him well.”
“Gideon? Gideon Lancaster? Eh? What do you mean? What was he like?”
When I told her about how Gideon used to stand against me and his cold-hearted nature, Cynthia listened in disbelief, but eventually crossed her arms and began to look thoughtful and difficult.
“Somehow that makes it sound as if their former personalities have been swapped exactly as they were before.”
I decided to tell Cynthia what I have been thinking about for a while now.
“Do you remember? When I was a freshman, teachers at the academy used to warn me about this. If you exceed the ‘upper limit’ of your magical power, your soul will leave your body.”
I thought that was just a threat. Like a parent telling a child that if they eat watermelon seeds, a watermelon tree will grow out of their stomach.
But there must have been some truth in it.
“Maybe “too much witchcraft really does make you lose your soul. Maybe, by using the magic of turning back time–the two of them crossed the upper limit point and the crown prince’s soul was replaced with that of the ‘initiator’?”
The crown prince’s current personality is consistent with Gideon’s former reputation.
“Is such a thing possible after all?”
As I spoke that much, Cynthia slowly looked up, her posture slumped and she sat cross-legged on the bed.
She then began to speak in a calm tone, as if she were gathering her thoughts.
“It’s not impossible. In the past, the study of magic was still in its infancy and the fundamentals of how to manipulate the three elements of water, wind and fire had not yet been established. That’s why, hundreds of years ago, magicians were used like weapons in wars and fell in a flurry.”
Indeed, that is what I learned in my history class at the institute. I nodded my head, remembering the school house with nostalgia.
“According to the history books and war chronicles, some of the military magicians who woke up from comas suffered from amnesia or had their personalities changed.”
“Could it be that…?”
“When you exceed the ‘upper limit point’ of your own magic, your soul spirit can become detached from your body and enter another body by mistake, perhaps.”
We looked at each other. Neither of us was certain of anything, just guessing.
But maybe, just maybe, there is a non-zero chance that the swap could have happened.
Thinking about it, I was curious about the example.
“The torn page of the old book of magic might have mentioned something about the replacement.”
“Yes, it might be so. –If you are right, does that mean that the crown prince and Gideon have been replaced?”
“That’s how it’s supposed to work.”
Cynthia looked at me and blinked furiously.
“You mean that our classmate was really the crown prince? I can’t believe it…! How rude could Mac have ever been?”
After shaking her head from side to side, Cynthia gasped and opened her eyes as if she had realized something. She clapped her hands once, lightly, as if clapping.
“But it makes sense! That’s why Gideon liked you so much!”
“If that’s true, then the ‘initiator’ of the Three Wise Men’s time beggar was once Gideon. If so, what did he want?”
No one had an answer to this.
Even Cynthia twisted her head and fell silent.
Cynthia reached out and put her hand on my knee.
“Be careful with that arrogant crown prince right now. I don’t know what he’s thinking.”
“Yes. Thank you.”
Not that anything has been resolved.
But I am so glad to have a friend like this who listens and thinks things through with me.
When I told her this, Cynthia laughed and poked me with her elbow.
“You’re not my friend, you’re my best friend.”