d person… Um, I’ll return the smartphone.
I’ll buy and install security measures today, so please be at ease.”

I said and returned the smartphone.

“That’s not good! Not only your own home but the school grounds are also dangerous.
Such dangerous people are close by!”
“I agree with Sara.
We’re friends, right? We’re just worried about you.”

I fell silent for some time.
I never had such close friends before.
Lady Sara and Lord Souju were my first friends.

“I am grateful for your concern.
But, if I one-sidedly receive such a donation, I don’t think we can be described as friends, no?”

I frankly asked.
Lady Sara and Lord Souju lived in a different world from me.
To them, this smartphone was surely nothing grandiose.

“I didn’t give it to you as a donation.”
“It’s the same for me.
Is there something wrong with trying to protect a precious friend? Besides, you gave us such a wonderful performance yesterday.
Your performance was worth much more than this smartphone.”

I didn’t know how to respond and ended up hanging my head.

“I believe that giving donations implies a sense of pity.
I don’t have any such feelings towards you, Rei.
In the first place, I’ve never pitied anyone before since I’m not interested in others.
Of course, I give donations.
It’s a kind of duty for someone of my standing.
But, I don’t have any feelings there.
That’s why this smartphone isn’t a donation.
It’s for my own sake.
If anything happened to you, I would hate it.”

How much were they willing to give me even though it had only been a day since we first met?
Even though I have absolutely nothing.
Even though I was a worthless, penniless person.
My chest began to hurt, and I was about to break out into tears.

“If it’s bothering you, Rei, I’ll ask for some compensation.
Right, how about letting us hear your performance as pianist Mary Shirasagi’s granddaughter and her only disciple? The minimum I ask for is once a week.
But, in that case, one smartphone wouldn’t be enough.”

What kind-hearted people.
It was the same with the riceballs yesterday, but they extended their hands so I wouldn’t feel burdened.

“Can my performance work as compensation?”
“Of course! You’re the only granddaughter of the fabled Mary Shirasagi.
No, that doesn’t matter.
Your performance alone is worthy!”

Shirasagi was Lady Mary’s maiden name.
Even after marriage, she continued to perform under the name of Mary Shirasagi.
While she was alive, I was dragged around the place by her, but even after her passing, she helped me in such a way.

“When I talked about yesterday, both Grandfather and Grandmother also wanted to hear your performance.”
“…Thank you very much.”

The tears finally spilled from my eyes.
Even someone as alone and poor as me could make such amazing friends.
With Ms.
Fuki gone, I was really and truly lonely.
I wasn’t the least bit unperturbed.
I was lonely.

“Oh no, oh dear.
Don’t cry! Now, it really looks like I’m bullying you!”
“Yup, it looks just like that!”
“What did you say, Souju?!”

I laughed at Lady Sara’s and Lord Souju’s exchange.
But, the tears didn’t stop.

I was lonely.
Fuki was gone, and I missed her.

“I-I’m sorry.
My tears are not stopping…”

I pulled out a handkerchief from my pocket and patted my eyes, but they still didn’t stop.
This was no good.
When I tried to stop, sobs would come out.

Lady Sara kindly stroked my back.
Her hand was warm.

“I’ll bring her to the infirmary for a bit.”

As I cried ugly tears, I was taken to the infirmary.
Ichijou saw that I was crying and asked if Lady Yuria Sakurada had done something again, but I shook my head from side to side while still in tears.

“I…want to see Ms.
I was lonely the whole time.”

Ichijou didn’t seem like he understood, but that was the only answer I could muster.
As I was crying like a child, he didn’t ask any more questions.
And, Lady Sara continued to stroke my back until I stopped crying.

By the time the first period ended, I finally calmed down.
Because my eyes were puffy, I was recommended to cool down my eyelids until the second period.
Naturally, I felt sorry for having Lady Sara accompany me, so I stayed alone in the infirmary.

Ichijou came to ask me if something had happened as I cooled down my eyes.
Together with delicious tea and some bonus cookies.
The aromatic scent from the cookies tickled my nose.
I talked about what happened this morning as well as about Ms.

“Are you worried about Lady Yuria Sakurada? This morning, I felt her sense of justice.
If she could be reconciled with me playing as the villainess, I do not mind.”
“No, but, then I would worry about you.”

Butter was used in these cookies! There was no shortening! Oh, how so extravagant! I’m in heaven!

“I’m not troubled, so please do not worry yourself over me.”
“If it truly becomes a problem, I’ll come back for some advice.”

I enjoyed the black tea and cookies and left the infirmary.

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