Twelfth Chapter – The Ball
Refusing to Go to School?
“I don’t want to go to kindergarten.”
It was morning, sometime after the assassination attempt on the Pope.
Those were the words that flew out right as the twins woke up.
I hadn’t expected this to happen.
Especially because Mei was the one who was bringing it up.
“What’s wrong, Mei? Are you being bullied by somebody in kindergarten?”
“That’s not it. The one who’s being bullied is Alea. I don’t want to go anywhere where Alea gets made fun of.”
Mei puffed her cheeks up, showing off her willingness to protest.
“Alea, are you being bullied?”
“I am not being bullied. However…….”
“Yes, she is! Everybody is paying so much attention to Mei that they’re leaving Alea out! I hate them!”
Since it seemed to be a deep-seated issue, Claire-sama and I let them take the day off to have a serious conversation with them.
We postponed our meal for the time being and sat the twins down at the table before Claire-sama and I went over to our own seats.
I prepared black tea for Claire-sama and myself, while I gave Mei and Alea a serving of warm milk each.
“So then, what seems to be the problem? Please tell us about it in detail.”
With all of us gathered by the table, Claire-sama tried to probe for answers from Mei.
Mei opened her mouth as if she could no longer contain her anger.
“You see, recently, Mei has learned how to actually use magic. Um……. was it called Thorid something? I don’t know how to describe it, but as long as I keep that method in mind……”
“! That’s great news. Congratulations.”
“It’s not good! It’s not great at all!”
Mei rejected it with her whole being.
“If the teachers found out that Mei can use four attributes of magic, they’ll end up devoting their time to Mei. Even though Alea and everyone else is working so hard, they’ll only focus on Mei. That’s weird.”
Mei spoke her piece in a single breath before taking a sip from her glass of warm milk to calm herself down.
The Empire’s merit-based education was thorough even in kindergarten.
Even for foreign exchange students like Alea, they are welcomed with open arms without discrimination, and are given opportunities to improve their abilities.
However, there are both merits and demerits when it comes to that kind of system.
For people that have outstanding abilities like Mei, they get placed in the most comfortable environment, but what about those people who were more on the normal side?
Most likely, the environment they get placed in feels like they’re just wasting time.
However, unexpectedly, the one who took issue with the meritocracy wasn’t Alea, but Mei.
Since Alea was a precocious child in various aspects, Claire-sama and I had expected her to be the one to have noticed it first instead.
“On top of that, the teachers keep saying that Mei should be separated from Alea and put into some other classroom to receive other kinds of lessons. Mei doesn’t want that at all!”
When I heard those words come out of her mouth, I felt like I understood where she was coming from now.
Mei wasn’t trying to condemn the injustices of the meritocracy within the public education system.
She simply found the idea of being separated from Alea, whom she greatly loved and respected, unbearable.
Claire-sama and I exchanged glances as we processed the situation.
The one who opened her mouth first was Claire-sama.
“Mei, there is some truth behind what you are saying. Regarding the case of Alea not being treated well enough at school, I will raise that issue with the kindergarten myself. However, not wanting to be separated from Alea is just your own selfishness, Mei. That isn’t going to――”
“Claire-sama, please wait a moment. May I say something first?”
I apologized to Claire-sama for interrupting her before I turned over to Mei and spoke with her.
“First of all, Claire-sama and I are incredibly happy that you were able to come and share your honest feelings with us. Thank you for discussing this with us upfront. I’m also happy that you were thinking so much about Alea.”
“The problem that you two are struggling with right now might be a little too difficult. However, Claire-sama and I would love it if we could all think it through together. Let’s try to brainstorm about what we can do together.”
After saying my piece, I went up to where Mei and Alea were sitting, and hugged them both.
Unlike usual, Mei and Alea obediently responded with a hug of their own.
As expected, the two of them were probably feeling really anxious.
“Mei, what do you want to do? What about you, Alea?”
I asked them as I looked at the two of them while they remained seated in their chairs.
“Mei doesn’t want to go to kindergarten anymore.”
“As for me…… if possible, I’d like to continue going to kindergarten.”
The two of them appeared to have different opinions.
“Alea, are you okay with being separated from Mei!?”
“That’s not it! But Mei not receiving a proper education would be my fault, and I don’t want that.”
Compared to Mei, who would tirelessly chase after her own honest desires, Alea was quite mature.
For Mei, who was being favored by everybody else, these kinds of thoughts shouldn’t have crossed her mind at all, so it was amazing that she was concerned about something like this.
“Alea, do you no longer need Mei…….?”
“That’s not it either! Being separated from Mei will be difficult for me as well.”
“In that case!”
“However, Mei, you’ve been blessed with the same level of talent as Manaria-oneesama, right? It would be an absolute waste if you didn’t do anything with it.”
“Mei doesn’t care about that! Mei cares about Alea way more than things like talent!”
“Alright, stop, stop. That’s enough.”
The two of them seemed like they were about to get heated up with no end in sight, so for the time being, I put a halt to it.
“Firstly, Mei, you just don’t want to be separated from Alea, right?”
“Secondly, Alea, you want Mei’s abilities to grow, correct?”
“Hmm……. Give me a moment. Let me talk it over with Claire-sama.”
I parted from the twins and went back to my own seat. Claire-sama, who was sitting next to me, appeared to have some kind of distant expression on her face.
What is it?
“Eh……? Ah…… W-What is it?”
“Mei and Alea have given us their respective opinions, but I thought the two of us could rack our brains through it together.”
“Y-Yes, let’s do that. You’re right……”
Claire-sama was acting a little strange, but she was still thinking through it.
It was a problem that I couldn’t handle alone, so it felt very reassuring to have Claire-sama by my side.
It was very reassuring, but she seemed to be spacing out a little.
“Mei and Alea know some difficult words despite being children, don’t they……”
“Whenever they hear a word that they don’t understand from the conversations that we have, they always ask us about it, after all.”
“Even so, there’s a limit to that……”
“They’re kids that used to live in a back alley together. You shouldn’t underestimate their obsession with learning.”
“……. You’re right.”
Claire-sama appeared to be convinced with that; however, her worries probably did not stop there.
Although, was it alright to ask her about them right now?
“Is it not alright for Alea and Mei to take the same classes as each other?”
For the time being, it seemed like a good idea to return to the topic at hand.
“I wonder about that. Given the Empire’s policies, even in kindergarten, Mei is probably receiving the highest level of education there. It might be a bit tough for Alea.”
“Mei, I’d like to confirm something with you. When you say that they want to separate you two, does that apply to all classes?”
“No, it’s different. It’s just magic lessons.”
“If that’s the case, would you not be able to bear with being separated from her just for magic lessons only?”
“……. I have to be with Alea.”
Mei started to get fussy.
“Hey, Mei. You consider Alea to be important to you, right?”
“You like Alea, don’t you?”
“I love her.”
“Yep, that’s right. But if that’s the case, then you wouldn’t want Alea to suffer, right?”
“I don’t want Alea to suffer at all!”
“Right. But you see, Mei, by wanting Alea to take the same magic lessons as you, that’ll only cause her to suffer, you know? Are you alright with that?”
“! …… Is that true, Alea?”
Mei looked over towards Alea with a surprised expression on her face.
“I won’t be able to understand the magic lessons that you’ll be receiving, Mei. I don’t have any aptitude for magic, after all.”
“I don’t want to be separated from you either, Mei, but while you are taking magic lessons, I want to spend my time learning how to wield a sword.”
“Yes. While you were invited to taking magic lessons, I was invited to a sword-fighting class. The swordsmanship teacher offered to give me lessons on it.”
“Is that what you want to do, Alea?”
“Yes. I don’t want to lose to Mei. But I’m happy that you don’t want to be separated from me, Mei. Thank you.”
Upon hearing Alea’s words, Mei wavered a bit.
She really didn’t want to be separated from Alea.
However, since she also didn’t want to hurt Alea, she had to prioritize fulfilling Alea’s wishes.
That was probably the conflict that plagued Mei’s mind.
“…… It’s just during magic lessons, right?”
“That’s right. Everything else will be the same as before.”
“No, it has to be even better than before!”
“Fufu, you’re quite the spoiled child, aren’t you, Mei?”
Alea laughed as she stroked Mei’s head.
Mei was still sulking, but at the very least, she seemed to agree with the arrangement.
I felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief.
“Now then, Mei, you’ll have to bear with it while you attend your magic classes. And during that time, Alea will be receiving lessons on swordsmanship. Everything else in between will be even better than how things are right now. Does that sound good?”
“Yes, it does.”
“Mei, thank you for putting up with it. And Alea, thank you for thinking about Mei as well.”
“Isn’t it natural? I mean, we are talking about the Mei that I love, after all.”
“! Mei also loves Alea!”
Upon hearing Alea’s words, Mei immediately perked right back up.
And just like that, the case of Mei’s refusal to go to school was resolved for the time being.
And we’re back with chapter 12! As usual, each part will be released every day at 11 AM UTC. This chapter will consist of 18 parts, so there’s a lot to look forward to! If you haven’t done so already, feel free to join us in Jingle’s Discord server, where we’ll (try to) ping those who wish to receive notifications for any IFTV updates. Of course, anybody who doesn’t want to receive those notifications are opted out of them by default, so come swing by if you just want to chat!
Meanwhile, a lot has happened in the last month while IFTV has been on break. If you haven’t done so already, make sure to check out Claire-sama’s birthday event celebration (which happened on March 28th), as well as the updated and complete version of Rei and Claire’s “First Night” together (rated 18+)!
Most importantly… IFTV has officially been licensed by Seven Seas and is slated for an English release! The official title for the series is “I’m in Love with the Villainess”, so make sure to be on the lookout for it when it hits stores this November (perhaps even earlier for the digital release).
Link to the license announcement: Twitter
As usual, thank you for reading I Favor the Villainess, and I hope you all enjoy what’s to come!