103. I want to return to you.

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 Claudia couldn’t describe what he was feeling. He felt as if the sense of loss was greater than the feeling of being refreshed. It was an emotion that occupied a large area of his mind, and it was a memory that he might never be able to forget. It’s not that he would miss her, he also knew that Violette didn’t have much regret. But her presence was special to him, it was more special than the feeling of love.



“I’m sorry it took us so long to finish the work. Are you sure it’s okay to stay so late?”



“Yes, I always stay at school until about this time.”



 Violette was urged to go home before it got dark, leaving Claudia behind, who had to stay behind because he still had some work left. As Violette was about to leave the student council room first, Claudia offered her a ride. But she declined the offer because she was feeling a little uncomfortable with the unusually light and friendly atmosphere.

 Even though their unannounced relationship was over, there were still some…… doubts as to what would happen to their relationship in the future. She wanted to keep a good relationship with him, a friendly one. The two were not close enough to be friends, but that didn’t mean they are strangers to each other from this day forward. If they had been friends before, it would have been natural for them to be so. But it is hard to imagine that they would have more trouble naming each other now that they have tried to keep their distance than they did when they wanted to interact unilaterally.



“…… I’m not ordering you, Violette. It’s my request. I ask you to listen with the understanding that you have a choice.”



 Violette tilted her head at the clipped choice of words and awkwardly averted her gaze. The only question that came to her mind was that how did Claudia, who basically speaks straightforwardly, has gone as far as to give her a choice?

 As Violette was pondering on her reply, Claudia took a deep breath as he firmly fixed his gaze on Violette and opened his mouth again.



“If Violette is willing, why don’t you join the student council?”



“…….. what?”



“I know how well you are at handling this kind of work. I’ve had you help me several times. I trust you in terms of your character, and if you are worried about those who are concerned about your family background, I will make sure they will have no complaints about you.”



 All of the reasons for the solicitation were certainly legitimate and reasonable. Claudia didn’t intend to lie and Violette knew that too. However, they all seemed unacceptable to Violette, who was visibly perplexed. It was clear that her low self-esteem was the cause of her hesitation. But at the same time, she doubted there was something else that Claudia didn’t reveal.

 Something he had been thinking about since the first day he invited Violette to this room to make her help him.



“And if you get busy with the student council’s work, going home late …… would not be a problem.”



“That……!”



 Claudia knew he had poked her sore spot, but he had noticed several times that Violette would feel uncomfortable going home most of the time. He didn’t mean to insult or threaten her by saying this, he just wanted to imply to her that working at the student council could help her pass the time after school.

 He never knew what was going on in the Vahan family, so he didn’t have any information on that either. But he could imagine the impact of having a stepmother and a half-sister might have had on her. He knew that she was alone, never going home early, never talking to anyone, blending in with the people like a lone flower swaying in the wind, as if she was going to disappear.

 He wondered if there was some reason and means to blend in, and then it occurred to him. It was not a pretty story for Violette, but a story of supply and demand that would benefit Claudia as well. There was no understanding between the two of them that would allow them to reach out to each other with a feeling of charity.



“Of course, it’s a tedious job, with long hours and a workload that’s nothing compared to what we have today. But me and Mirania will be saved, and we’ll have less work to do.”



“……..”



“You don’t have to answer me right now. You can think it carefully and answer me anytime you like. But I hope you give it enough thought to make up your mind.”



“Yes. ……”



 Violette, still apparently confused, answered while wandering her gaze. Considering the past and today, she couldn’t complain about not being able to reject him directly.



“Then take care.”



“Yes. And Claudia-sama, please don’t ……work so much and be too hard on yourself.”



 Claudia returned a bitter smile to Violette’s exertion of advising him to take care of him. After greeting each other goodbye, Violette left the student council room. Today Claudia didn’t invite Violette just to help him, but also offer him one of the positions on the student council.



(Student Council ……)



 If it had been the old her, she would have happily nodded her head in agreement, not understanding that it was a job of great responsibility and feeling, and would only be happy that she was invited by Claudia himself. She could imagine how easily she could get carried away.

 Now she could understand that the job of being one of the members of the student council was not that simple. Claudia himself looked tired, the workload was too much for just two people to handle, and the stacks of paper didn’t seem to be decreasing. If Violette could help him even a little, even if it was as small as a bean, shouldn’t she accept the offer as repayment for the trouble she has caused him?



(Even if it’s a ….. little.)


Violette was sorry for the trouble she had caused him, and the fact of not paying for the mistake was also unappealing to her. If Claudia, of all people, said that Violette was good enough to work as a student council member, then she must have the default value of competence. Although she is easily caught up in a sense of justice and sympathy, she was not foolish enough to decide to be an important board member on that basis alone.



 She knew that accepting the offer was mutually beneficial, but the reason why she still couldn’t nod her head was….



“Welcome back.”



 He sat on the window sill and looked at her. His eyes were narrowed into a smile, and the lashes that framed them created beautiful shadows on his face. Beautiful, pretty, gentle and soft. It was he who taught her that a person’s smile was reassuring. Before that, she had always thought that people were all horrible, whether they were laughing, crying, or angry.



“That …… welcome back sounded a little different, don’t you think?”



“No, it’s not.”



 Wherever she is, whoever she is with, she wants to come back here.

 Because this is where she belongs.



“I’m home, Yulan.”



 (Because I want to be with you.)

 Violette couldn’t help but wonder if he(Yulan) would laugh again if she told him her refusal to Claudia’s offer was him.

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