People talked about Lucia’s long unrequited love and multiple confessions, saying that Herwin should accept her.
But were they thinking of Lucia?
Some might say it purely as a favor, but at least Lucia didn’t feel like they had her best interests at heart.
They’re just having fun with the situation.
They’re just having fun with the situation, so they’re going to continue to make things uncomfortable for everyone involved by saying things they can’t be held accountable for.
Herwin hit the nail on the head.
He saw Lucia’s sincerity and acted accordingly.
He had rejected her because she had always been sincere, and he hadn’t accepted her because he didn’t feel the same way.
Herwin was protecting Lucia by standing up to people, even when he was in trouble himself.
She felt so grateful and sorry for him that she couldn’t stay by his side any longer.
In the end, Lucia decided to avoid him completely for the rest of the school year.
She switched seats with someone else, avoid sitting next to him and made sure she didn’t have to sit with him at all.
Luckily, Herwin noticed Lucia’s feelings and didn’t catch her avoiding him except for the first time or two.
After a few days of avoiding Herwin, and with three days left until vacation, Lucia was being led somewhere by Christine.
“Christine, where are we going?”
“Forgive my rudeness, Lucia.”
It was frustrating that this was the only answer she got when she asked where they were going.
It was also frustrating because she knew Christine wasn’t the kind of person to do anything rash, but she knew she wasn’t the same.
‘For Christine, she suddenly lost a friend.’
After the birthday party, Bianca became completely distant.
Bianca joined the group of people who usually envied Lucia and became just like them as if the façade she had put up was a lie.
Whether it was because she no longer wanted to hide her true feelings, or because she didn’t have to, she was now openly hostile to Lucia.
Bianca and Lucia couldn’t get back on the same page.
Lucia entered the empty classroom with the sound of the door opening and was surprised to find someone in the classroom.
“Now, you’re calling me for a three-way confrontation?”
Bianca looked surprised at first, then grimaced, not liking the situation.
“I’m sorry to call you out of the blue, but I couldn’t help but think that…….”
The hand that held Lucia’s slid down and settled over Christine’s face.
“I want to take this moment to ask you, Bianca, did you really… did you set this up on purpose to embarrass Lucia?”
Christine asked the question she’d been dying to ask, but hadn’t gotten around to.
“We used to get along, just a few days ago we were all in the same room together, having a good time.
How did this happen? Answer me, Bianca.”
Christine finally burst into tears.
Just a few days ago, her best friends had fallen out irreparably, and one of them had set out to destroy the other.
It was hard to believe that someone who wasn’t just a friend, but a close friend, would do such a thing.
Lucia agreed with her and took a step forward.
“……I want to ask you too, did you dis it?”
She knew the answer, but she wanted to hear it from her mouth.
Bianca froze for a moment, then pouted.
“Princess Lydia is right, I did set this whole thing up.”
“Why? I thought you were such a close friend…….”
“Ha, friend? I never thought of you as a friend for a single moment.”
Bianca gave her a cold sneer.
“You’ve been an asshole since the first time I saw you, sticking up for Herwin and acting like a prude just because you’re best friends over nothing, and I’ve had a hard time with you, all smiles and giggles.”
Lucia bit her lower lip.
“You ……really never considered me a friend.”
Lucia’s heart broke, and she felt like tears were about to fall.
But she didn’t want to cry in front of her.
She couldn’t cry, couldn’t be angry, and her graying hair fluttered as her clenched fists shook.
Then there was a harsh sound.
Christine slapped Bianca across the cheek.
“I hope not……!”
Bianca’s eyes widened as she held her swollen cheek and glared at Christine.
Glaring at Bianca, Christine turned and walked away, leading Lucia’s hand.
After walking for a while, Christine finally fell into place.
Lucia carefully put her arm around her shoulders.
Christine blinked back tears, looking just as hurt as Lucia.
“I’m, I’m sorry, Lucia, I know this must be the hardest thing for you right now…….”
Lucia wordlessly patted her shoulder.
Christine struggled to hold back her tears and eventually sobbed as she hugged Lucia tightly.
She had lost her best friend in an instant.
* * *
“It’s vacation time.”
“Hah, the long, dreaded first semester is finally over.”
Just before boarding the carriage to go home for vacation, the friends said their goodbyes.
“It’s a good thing it happened right before vacation.”
“Yeah, I’m sure the rumors will die down by next semester.”
The friends were still worried about the rumor mill.
It was a good thing Ethan was right and they had a quick break.
“I guess that means …… Herwin and Lucia aren’t going to reconcile.”
“What’s going to happen in the second semester…….”
The two haven’t spoken since that day.
Their friends were worried that their current relationship would continue into the second semester.
“But where are Herwin and Lucia?”
“Come to think of it, haven’t we seen them since earlier?”
Starting with Christine, and her friends looked around.
Sure enough, they were all together in the auditorium at the end of the school day, but they were nowhere to be seen.
When Brian, Arista, and the others looked for Herwin and Lucia, they found them in a deserted corner.
Just as Lucia was about to run away, Herwin, who had dragged her, trapped her between his arms.
“Lucia, you can’t run anymore.”
Hearing the low voice, Lucia fidgeted and focused her attention on her surroundings, not on Herwin in front of her.
Herwin bit his lower lip at the way she looked at him when no one was looking.
“How long are you going to be like this, avoiding me forever?”
“What’s so insecure about you, are you still bothered by what people think of you, is that why you keep avoiding me?”
Lucia pursed her lips but didn’t speak, and Herwin sighed deeply.
If you’re not going to see me forever, say it here and now.”
Lucia’s heart sank.
Even more than the coldness of his words, the exhaustion in his red eyes as he stared down at her made her throat tighten.
‘I didn’t avoid him to see him like this….…’
She’s afraid she’s going to get him in trouble again.
She doesn’t want to get him in trouble again.
She only avoided him because she didn’t want to cause him any more damage.
She didn’t want him to get hurt.
“I don’t know what to do whenever you come out like this.”
Herwin swiped at his dry face.
“Don’t mind other people! This is between you and me, and what they say can’t affect us in any way, so…….”
Red eyes flashed over the large hand covering his face.
Lucia’s lips quivered as she saw the eight-year-old in the giant of a man in front of her, and he looked just as vulnerable.
“Don’t you hate me……?”
“Hate you? Why?”
“Because I’m the reason this happened…….”
Lucia’s voice began to quiver.
She had been betrayed by Bianca, mocked by people, and hadn’t been able to confide in anyone.
“If I hadn’t confessed to you… if I hadn’t been so stupid and listened to Bianca straight… no if I had stopped liking you……!”
Thick tears rolled down her cheeks.
Lucia’s voice grew louder.
“You would never have gotten yourself into this much trouble! I… I… I don’t want you to be all over the place because of me, you hate that, and you never do anything that would get you in trouble, and now your reputation has been destroyed because of me…….”
Lucia threw a fit.
“How can I be around you like that!”
“You avoided me because you didn’t want me to get in trouble ……?”
Herwin ran a hand through his hair for a moment, then grabbed Lucia’s shoulders and looked her in the eye.
“If I didn’t like you, if you bothered me, I would have stayed away from you a long time ago, and if I didn’t like people looking at me, I wouldn’t even be here talking to you, but do you know why I didn’t?”
Lucia shook her head.
“Because I want you next to me.”
Lucia’s blue walls stirred, then straightened.
“I know your feelings for me can be overwhelming, and sometimes your confessions can be annoying, but as I said before, I’m glad you’re my friend, and I don’t want to lose a friend like that over something like this.”
“Are you sure…you’ve never hated me?”
“Uh, not once.”
Her heart sank.
The tears that she thought would never come filled her eyes again.
She felt saved by his words.
She’d been telling herself to stay positive, but there was a nagging feeling of anxiety in the back of her mind.
She used to wonder if he hated her for following him so relentlessly and if he was forced to keep her aside because of their childhood connection.
Herwin hesitated, then carefully wiped Lucia’s tears away.
“If it’s okay with you, you can continue to confess as before.
You don’t have to beat yourself up over this, just tell me everything.”
Through the clarity of her vision, she could see Herwin’s rough, large hands, and the red jeweled cufflinks on his sleeves.
Lucia’s eyes squeezed shut at the sight of it.
“I like… Herwin…….”
“I’m sorry I like you…….”
Herwin stayed by her side until she stopped crying.
The two stood there for a while, but it wasn’t long before they returned to their friends.
They breathed a sigh of relief to see Herwin and Lucia side by side.
The others around them gossiped about the reunited pair, but Lucia was no longer afraid of them, nor was she avoiding Herwin.
She merely felt the breeze pleasantly brushing her cheeks.
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