Seven days ago, Charl was violently and noisily pacing around her room.
She would walk to the door, stop, and turn back before performing another U-turn.
Her foot clipped the table, causing the mountain of textbooks on it to collapse.
This woke Sigmund up from his afternoon nap, and he yawned as he rose up from the bed.
“If you’re that worried, you should go see how Raishin’s doing.”
“Wha- I- You— I’m n-n-not worried about him at all!”
“You’ve already put off studying for three days. Doesn’t that mean you can’t concentrate?”
“J-j-just because that’s true doesn’t mean you can jump to that conclusion. Don’t stretch the truth. I couldn’t be bothered in the least about that idiot’s condition. With his constitution, that idiot will be just fine. Besides… no visitors are allowed in there in the first place.”
“I’m sure if you asked Miss Kimberly she’d help you. Since it’s coming from you, she won’t say no.”
“W-w-why do I have to go so far for someone like him?”
Crossing her arms, she turned her head away.
“Stop being so stubborn. If a friend’s injured, it’s only natural to be concerned. The more obstinate you remain, the more your true feelings show.”
“… True feelings?”
“You’re finally recognising Raishin as a male, no?”
“Wha— There’s no way that’s possible. Don’t say such strange things, or I’ll change your lunch from chicken to herring cans. You irritating dragon!”
“See, you’re trying to deny it vehemently. And why is that?”
“I’m not vehemently denying—“
Charl all the more tried to rebut Sigmund, but stopped.
Sigmund was with Charl at all times. On top of that, he had been with her ever since she was born. When it came to her, Sigmund could easily see right through her.
“… I mean, what if I somehow end up liking him—”
Having realised what she had just said, Charl exploded.
“This is just a hypothetical situation! A work of fiction! We’re simply talking about the possibility of it happening!”
“Yes, yes, I get it. For argument’s sake, let’s say you have some good will towards him, so what?”
“Wouldn’t that… make me seem like an… easy girl?”
Slowly but steadily, the outer corner of her eyes were tinged with moisture. Charl looked like she was on the verge of tears, but at the same time she might have been angry. To Sigmund, she was staring at him with a strange face.
“Hm. You humans have your own hardships to go through. However, your concern—“
At that moment, the door opened with a click, the person not bothering to knock.
While pushing a pushcart, the gentle-natured boarding mistress entered.
“Oh, Charl. Still not leaving your room? It’s been three days already, you know?”
“Miss Zeth— what is that? A trunk?”
“You should be happy. You’re finally getting a roommate!”
“Wha— Please don’t decide that for me all of a sudden! How can you suddenly spring a roommate on me out of nowhere!”
“I will not tolerate back talk, young lady. The gryphon dormitory rules state that one room is to be shared between two girls.”
“But I’ve always been by myself all this while!”
“That’s because you’ve always been causing trouble, haven’t you? You pushed Ravena out of the window, then you made Nancy cry.”
“Calm down. I’m sure you’ll like the new girl. — Come in!”
In a sing-song voice, she called out to the hallway.
Eventually, almost apologetically, a young girl timidly entered.
She looked very shy. Her cap was pulled down past her eyes, like she was trying to hide her flaxen hair.
Upon seeing the girl’s face, Charl literally jumped towards her.
She couldn’t believe it. Cutting in front of the boarding mistress, she dashed towards the girl.
She extended her hands out fearfully. Her fingertips touched flesh. It wasn’t an illusion.
“Are you ok!? Did anything happen to you!? Where have you been all this time!? How’s mother!? Why are you at the academy— why are you my roommate!?”
“Calm down, Charl. Your behaviour would make anyone, to say nothing of Henri, uncomfortable.”
Sigmund rebuked her. Flapping his wings, he landed on Charl’s head.
“Long time no see, Henri. How are you feeling?”
Henri’s nervousness eased a little. She smiled ever so slightly.
“Long time no see, Sigmund…”
“I’m glad to see you’re fine. Charl has been worrying about you for so long.”
Charl turned her head away, but Sigmund forced it back.
As he did so her tears scattered into the air, sparkling as they hit the floor.
“… It’s fine for me to cry, ok? There’s nothing strange about it!”
Finally unable to hold herself back, she embraced Henri tightly.
She had grown a little, but her smell, and the feeling of hugging her told Charl this was Henri.
She was alive. She was alive and now she was here…!
While being hugged, Henri had also extended her arms around Charl’s back at some point in time.
At first, she was a little reserved, but eventually, her embrace grew tighter.
Both Sigmund and the boarding mistress stared affectionately at the two sisters locked in their embrace.
“Ok, what happened to you? Why are you at the academy now?”
Henri’s face instantly clouded over. Pushing herself away from Charl, she grew distant.
“… I’m here to fulfil a role.”
“A role? What kind? Why did you come here?”
Henri closed her eyes tightly, before muttering in anguish.
“I’m here… to bring misfortune upon you.”