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Simon’s autumn birthday passed, the weather began to gradually get colder. Soon chilly rain gave way to white winter. The first day when the temperature dropped sharply, Louise got out of bed shivering.
“You should change to a winter blanket when it snows.”
Despite Ian’s warning yesterday, Louise did not swap out her bed covers for a warmer one. She should have listened to her Academy senior.
Her shoulders shook from the force of her sneeze. She was not about to catch a cold, was she? Louise recalled her remaining schedule. The exam period was approaching, which meant she had to sell ink and paper in the warm student council room. It was a bit of a hassle, but the good news was that she would be excluded in the lot drawing for “carrying ink over the walls of the Academy.”
During that period, it would be a good time to complete her art appreciation report and complete her studies before the dreaded exam period began. When that was over, she would write her wrong answer report and turn them in for jelly candies.
‘And then the results will be announced.’
Ian and Simon were more concerned with their test than Louise was.
For the first ever, Simon Hillard decided he would do his best.
‘And the President has always put in his best effort.’
It would not be easy to surpass the man that had dedicated himself to be the best for so long. Louise was grateful that they didn’t ask her to cheer for one of them, as she didn’t know what side to take. All Louise could do was pat both of their backs no matter what happened. Those who got the best results deserved encouragement.
She contemplated an Academy life without Ian, Simon, and Claire. There were still many other good people, of course, so she could still have a good experience.
‘But it’s too bad…’
She had spent so much time obsessing with the original story in the beginning, it would have been better if she lived in the moment, really looking at the expressions her friends made and the words they said. She wished she stored those memories more carefully.
However, even Louise, who was born again into this word, could not turn back time. There was only one choice she could make now—make the most of their time together.
Of course, her health was the most important thing to take care of at the moment. Louise wore a thick coat from home over her school uniform, then took out a scarf that she never thought she would use and wrapped it around her neck. She also pulled on two pairs of socks on her feet. The tight shoes made it awkward to walk, but she could tolerate it just today. If she caught a cold, she wouldn’t be able enjoy her winter with her friends.
Having armed herself against the chill, Louise picked up her bag and left the dormitory. The winter wind filtered through her scarf and stung her cheeks, and her exposed hand holding her bag smarted as well.
A happy voice called out to her, and Louise immediately knew that it was Claire even before she turned around.
“How are you? Your bad cold lasted quite a while.”
“I’m healthy, as you can see. I bundled up and pay careful attention to my health. I don’t want to spend my last days at the Academy being sick.”
Claire wore a winter coat and thick gloves, and Louise lamented for not bringing her own woolen gloves. Come to think of it, anyone needed gloves when carrying their bags around all the time.
“Looks like you’re prepared, too.”
“I didn’t want to spend the winter suffering, either.”
Claire smiled and touched Louise’s scarf. Several students passed by them. Usually everyone wore the same colors, but it was different today.
“Interesting, isn’t it?”
Claire stared at their retreating backs and smiled.
“Everyone can wear their own coats for the winter.”
“But everyone wears clothes that are too thick to see their body shape. The only difference is the slightly different colors and materials.”
“Almost all of them…but some people don’t.”
“Don’t wear clothes that are thick.”
There couldn’t be such an idiot in this Academy, could there? It was basic common sense to dress up in thick clothes in winter. Only fools that didn’t have fear of colds would do something so reckless.
“He’s over there.”
Claire lifted her hand to point at a figure some distance away. Louise peered to see the stupid person, then narrowed her eyes.
In the middle of the cold wintry landscape stood a young man in a thin coat that wasn’t even buttoned up. He had to be abusing his body at this point. Of course, in terms of appearance, his long arms and legs were shown off, and his face was apparently deemed too handsome for a scarf as well.
“It’s the President.”
“Yes. He was just like that on the coldest day last year, too.”
“Isn’t he freezing?”
“He said he was not.”
That was impossible. As far as Louise knew, Ian experienced the cold just like everyone else. If he wore those thin clothes in such low temperatures, his body would freeze.
“So I made some theories with my other friends in the student council last year.”
Ian spotted Louise and Claire and waved from a distance. He probably didn’t even know they were talking about his clothes.
“I don’t think the Crown Prince would deliberately wear clothes that thin.”
“So maybe the coat has a magical feature that makes it warm? That was my theory.”
Louise nodded her head. It was a credible story. Any doting uncle who cared for Ian like a flower could gift him such a great coat.
“Have you checked it yet?”
“Sadly, no. Even if everyone is friendly with the President…that’s not enough to put your hand in his coat, is it?”
“Oh, but you might be able to check it, Louise. You’re pretty close to the President, aren’t you? Enough that you can put your hand in his clothes?”
If she did that, she would be dragged to the police station for her crime and her hands would get cut off, regardless of her social status. And even if Ian allowed Louise’s hand near him, there was another problem.
“I can’t, my mind’s not ready….”
“Is it necessary to prepare your mind? Just put your fingers inside his coat.”
Ah. Well. That prompted some crazy delusions. Louise was embarrassed by her response, but fortunately she didn’t have to make excuses. Ian was approaching them, and the conversation about his clothes ceased. The three greeted each other, then walked side-by-side to the student council room.
Louise, who was standing next to Ian, kept stealing sidelong glances at his coat. Did it really have a warming feature? It didn’t seem that special.
The three of them entered the student council room and were greeted by Dean, who had lit the stove heater in advance. Louise was surprised because he rarely arrived first.
“What brings you here so early?”
Louise took off her scarf and coat and hung it on a chair. Considering how warm the air was even after she took of her outer layers, Dean must have been heating the place for some time.
He must have come ahead to warm himself up.
“Really, Dean? I’m touched by your sign of friendship.”
Louise approached him with praise, when—
“Kollog, kollog kollog.”
Dean buried his face in a handkerchief and gave a hacking cough, and Louise stumbled back about five steps to escape her germs. After he finished coughing, he looked at her with a bleary face.
“…Touched by friendship? Kollog.”
“Sorry. Didn’t think.”
This was a reminder for her to stay healthy during winter. However, the desire for health could not be stronger than friendship, and so Louise took a few steps towards Dean. He suddenly became angry.
“Every time you get closer, your ugly face gets more and more terrible! Just don’t come! Your worries are useless!”
“You can’t admire friendship unless you beat that terrible cold.”
At the end of his sentence, Dean blew his nose, then dropped his head onto the table.
“It’s been a while.”
Claire murmured to herself for a moment, then pointed to Dean’s head.
“President, is it okay to take this patient to the infirmary?”
“You should let me do it. I’ve beaten a cold recently.”
And this cold seemed to have originated from Claire.
“Alright. There’s still some time before the meeting anyway.”
The three of them raised Dean from his seat. Ian placed Dean’s coat on the him and Claire buttoned it up. Louise carefully wrapped his grey scarf around his neck, and in the meanwhile Ian managed to locate a fur hat in the storage room that covered his ears.
“…It’s too much. You’re not sending me to the northern dragon, are you?”
“If I had, I would have sent you naked. The northern dragon has a strong jaw, so he likes frozen meat.
After Claire finished speaking, she quickly pulled Dean’s arm.
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